By Raffaelina Lowcock
I lived in The Beaches in Toronto, from 1945 and I never wanted to leave, but I did in 1956 when my husband worked in Willowdale, which was many miles from The Beaches. Leaving such an ideal neighbourhood was not what we wanted but we really had no choice.
That was where the crux of my life developed and where I gloried in the blessing of living near Lake Ontario.
The district was a mixture of country and urban life and had that small-town vibe. The Beach and the boardwalk stretched between Balmy Beach Canoe Club with a dance venue and the Woodbine Racetrack. Beyond the boardwalk was a beautiful park with baseball fields, tennis courts, and lawn bowling, one block north was Queen Street East with every type of commercial outlet one would desire. The rest was all middle-class residential streets.
That was where the focal point of my life developed and became the catalyst for my future.
As I recall my life here, I will touch on the wonderful environment where life flourished and delve a little deeper into its history.
Now in my reverie, my earliest recollection is that of my fourth birthday when my Aunt Betty said, "Today is your birthday, a very special day, Roseanna, so we need to get you ready to enjoy it."
"First, we'll give you a bath and then we'll wash your hair and Auntie Mary Rose will comb it into ringlets. We've picked a special dress, the navy blue Shirley Temple ONE with the red piping. Does that sound good, HONEY?"
My eyes widened as I answered excitedly, "Oh yes, am I four?"
She said, "Yes, Sweetie, you are four today," as she hugged me.
I was with my Aunt Betty and Aunt Mary Rose, because my mother was at work.
Both Aunts, Betty and Mary Rose, were extraordinarily beautiful Italian women with flashing brown eyes and RICH black hair. Both were young and vibrant, and impressed me a great deal in my young life.
Auntie Mary Rose would often be seated at my grandmother's dark mahogany piano, singing and playing "Maria Laina," "Harbour Lights," and "Deep Purple." I sat on the floor, by the piano, and listened. I relished those times because I loved music and especially singing.
Auntie Betty was known for her singing and guitar playing. She frequently would be part of Church concerts and I often picture her in my mind, singing such favorites as "Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart," upon the stage in a blue chiffon gown. I am sure my love of music and the prevalence of it in my life was born from my impression of my aunts.
Once I had been bathed and my long, black hair washed, they dressed me in that Shirley Temple dress. My Auntie Betty said, "Here's something special Anna" and she picked up my black patent-leather shoes and turned them soles up. I squealed when I saw the taps on the toes.
"Oh, Auntie Betty, I love you!"
I was always tap dancing and they promised they would have taps put on my shoes. Now that it was done, I was so happy and I did feel special.
I threw my arms around her and hugged her tightly. "I'm so happy." She tenderly cupped my face with her hands and kissed my forehead.
Then Auntie Mary Rose combed my hair into ringlets (it took a long time). This was not the first time. It was a regular ritual that continued for a few more years and I believe trained my hair to natural curliness.
They then seemed to be on edge and waiting for something.
My grandmother was in the kitchen baking and she kept coming into the living room. She'd look at my Aunts with her eyebrows raised and say, "No?"
My aunts would shake their heads. and one would answer, "No."
When the doorbell rang, Auntie Betty said, "It's here Mary," and they both ran to the door, I followed, and Auntie Betty opened it. A truck (I learned later from Eaton's Department Store) was at the curb and the driver was at the door with a big box.
Auntie Betty said, "This is your birthday present Anna," with a big smile.
The box contained a beautiful tricycle! I was so excited. Auntie Mary Rose took me outside and showed me how to ride it.
Slowly it all flooded in at once how much my Aunts loved me and took such good care of me. It was one of the happiest days of my young life, and it was the happy feeling I recall most about that special day.
After that, little snippets of time could be recollected. The times I spent in the closet with the window, where I always went when it was pouring rain. I loved it in that closet where I sat upon a very high stool and watched the street as it filled with water sometimes spilling up over the curbs.
It was a very small street, one of those offshoots of a long thoroughfare. Sometimes, it looked as if there was going to be a flood. I felt so safe in there, with the cooking smells of oregano and garlic from my grandmother's kitchen, wafting through the door and knowing that the water would never get me!
The closet was about 10 ft. square with space in the middle and the coats hanging around the square with me sitting at the window. The wooden shelves above the coats were filled with multi-colored gloves, scarves, and hats.
Once in a while, my grandmother would knock on the door. "Roseanna, cookies for you."
And there she would be, all five feet six of her, with twinkling brown eyes, an angelic face with a button nose and a merry smile, under gray-streaked black hair worn in a bun. She was famous for the chewy chocolate almond diamond-shaped Italian cookies.
Many people lived in my grandparents' home. There was my Auntie Mary Rose, Auntie Betty, Uncle Ned, Uncle Johnny, Uncle Davey, Grandmother Mary, and Grandfather Joseph Delmonico, my mother Roseanna (Anna) Emilia, my father Anthony (Nino) my brother Michael, my sisters Angela (Angie) and Maria (Mary) and of course me, Roseanna (like my mother, Anna). It was a three-storied house and my sisters and I had a bedroom in the attic.
Because my mother worked during the day, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She was always either baking or sewing and mostly baking. Everything she baked was delicious.
She was a very loving person with me and very domineering with her immediate family. She ruled the roost.
My grandfather was a very handsome brown-eyed man, who was six feet tall with a full head of gray hair and a mustache to match. He closely resembled the actor C. Aubrey Smith. He was quite a presence, in a quiet stern way.
He worked for the Canadian Pacific Railways and I remember my mother and father discussing him once and wondering why he still walked to work, which was many miles away from his home. He did that during the Great Depression, and now, years later, he continued to do so.
During his leisure hours, he was a supreme gardener and took great pride in the flowers he nurtured such as the multiple hollyhock stalks, clusters of roses, Sweet Williams, to name but a few. He would get very angry when we would, with a bottle in one hand and lid in the other, chop a hollyhock blossom and bottle it because there was a bee in the blossom.
I'm sure when he exploded, "@#$%!@X" that it was an Italian curse, even though I didn't understand the language.
We really didn't know what the big fuss was about and just kept on doing the same thing over, and over again. Poor Papa!
My mother, my angel, was a beautiful woman with a blush to her soft white skin and hair the color of COAL. Her eyes were dark brown and very animated when she spoke. She wasn't very tall, just maybe five feet tall and pleasingly plump.
In the evening after supper, all the children on the street would play Red Rover. My mother would appear on our veranda and call me ahead of my siblings, "Anna, come see what I have!"
I was always so happy to see her that I fell for it every night. I'd rush to my mother who would sweep me up in her arms and say "I've got you." She would hug me tightly as she headed into the house.
She was my whole world. When she was home, I stuck to her like glue. She always made me feel that I was so special.
That house at 9 Page Street holds many memories as well as 19 Page Street, where my immediate family eventually moved. That's where we lived when we were all baptized at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church on Bathurst Street. Michael, Angie, and Mary were going to Clinton Public School at the time and were then transferred to St. Peter's Roman Catholic Separate School.
The next fall I was entered into Kindergarten, at St. Peter's. I remember that day like it was yesterday. My mother whispered to me, "Roseanna, I am leaving for a little while, but I will be back very soon." and then she left the room.
I was devastated. I felt abandoned there, with strange people and children and a woman with what looked like a hood around her face and a long black gown with a white starched frame under a veil that matched the gown. She was my teacher, Sister Mary Bernadette, and the first nun I had ever seen. I couldn't control my tears. She soothingly said, " It's alright dear, your mother will be here soon." She had a lovely honest face, and I trusted her words.
Sure enough, my mother returned, and all was well.
To be continued...
Fiction based on a true story.
My thanks to Susan F.M.T for her lovely art.
By Raffaelina Lowcock
There are bits from the past of a dramatic scene where I see a man carrying my sister "Mary" down the street while many of the neighborhood kids tagged along behind, like those in the tale about The Pied Piper of Hamlin.
Blood streamed down her face, but I didn't know what happened until later.
There was a fire on the adjacent street to ours and all the children that were playing started to run to the fire as the fire truck's sirens screamed loudly. Some boy picked up a brick and threw it and it hit Mary just over her eye. That was the source of the blood. It looked worse than it really was, but what a hullaballoo! I do remember this every time I look at Mary, who now has a tiny scar just near her eyebrow. It isn't unattractive actually; it's barely noticeable.
The mysterious boy and why he threw the brick, was never known.
And then there is this story that haunts me. A boy, who was about 18 years old and very harmless-looking, was riding his bicycle on our street one evening, and giving rides to one child at a time. Each time he came back, he'd choose another child and take that child for a ride.
My sister Angie kept running up to the bike and saying, "Me next, take me." However, he left her until the last.
When twenty minutes later she was not back, Mary went to my mother and said,
"Mom, a boy took Angie on his bike, and he hasn't come back."
My mother said, "Oh no!" She immediately called the police 'and' within a few 'hours' they found him with Angie.
He had taken her to a garage a few streets over from ours and was caught molesting her. She was crying and very frightened and wouldn't speak. The police brought her home in a very traumatized state.
I was seven years old at the time and was sent to bed. The event was never discussed in my presence.
Angie was ten years old. She was a tomboy always active. A tree climber and full of mischief, but after that, she was never the same. She became very withdrawn.
When she was sixteen years old she seemed intent on becoming a nun. That never happened, yet she never married.
She didn't speak about it until '1982' the year she died of Lung Cancer, she was fifty-three years old. That year she confided many things to me that she had kept to herself over the years. She never divulged just exactly what happened to her, just confessed, in tears, "I just hate the summers; it's sheer "hell" for me because that's when children seem to be accosted and I read about kidnappings in the paper and hear about them on the radio."
I was rendered speechless when I saw the depth of her sadness. I hadn't been close to her before, it was always Mary she was close to. But, while she was ill I was the one that drove her to Princess Margaret Hospital for treatment and we became close. Also, she lived at my house during that stressful time.
She said, "I try so hard to forget, but it's hopeless. I am always depressed during the Summer."
She never told me what happened. She died with her secret intact.
Then came World War II with its complications for my Italian family.
Because my parents were originally from Italy, they were required to register their names and any pertinent information in a Programme the Canadian Government initiated during the war. It was for Italians, Germans and Japanese persons. Some people my parents knew had been sent to Concentration Camps. It was a frightening time.
I was deeply troubled. Although we were getting ready to move to the East End into a new house, my concern was regarding World War II. Why did this concern me? Well, it not only concerned me, but it also affected me because I was of Italian descent. I had become very self-conscious about my heritage.
On the street where we lived, the verandas were only separated by a six-foot alleyway. We had neighbours who, when my parents and grandmother were having a conversation on our veranda, would shout, "Speak English or go back to Italy."
She could speak in broken English as she did to me, but when it was my mother and father it was easier for her to speak to them in her first language. Those times were humiliating.
Another problem was the bullies in our neighbourhood who picked on me daily, on my way home from school.
Three or four boys would hover closely and suddenly push me to the ground and hold me, hostage, as they spouted the designated 'racial names' of that time, at me. I was afraid to leave my house.
I was suspicious of my friends. I wasn't too sure of their feelings. I knew I might be overthinking the situation, but I couldn't help my self-consciousness. Toronto was known as WASP territory; that meaning White Anglo Saxon People.
There was another humiliation I experienced. A priest from St. Francis Parish, which is in the Italian District of Toronto would come to our school monthly I had no idea what the arrangement with our school was. We were not in his jurisdiction that all the Italian children should go to a specific classroom. All the other children would turn and stare as we rose and left the room.
Upon his arrival, our teacher would announce, "Will all the Italian children go to room 6."
When we arrived at the meeting place, which was one of the empty classrooms on the first floor, he asked, "Does anyone have a complaint?"
Well, yes. Why did he target the Italian children so that the whole school was aware of who we were? Of course, we couldn't ask that.
I was aware of the poor children in England and France, and their plight; how they were suffering in this awful war. For not one moment did I sympathize with Italy's actions, yet I was living under that cloud. I prayed the war would be over soon and all the suffering and hostility would then disappear.
This was April 1945; I was 12 years old and would become a teenager on May 1st, my upcoming birthday.
During my adolescence, I was entering that awkward age and was very self-conscious about my looks. I was considered a very cute child with big brown eyes and naturally curling black hair. Now my features were changing and I wasn't too thrilled with the new look.
Through all this, I was looking forward to moving because I would be starting high school, come the following September and that would begin a new chapter in my life, hopefully, a good one.
To be continued...
A portion of Roseanna Emilia's life. A work. of fiction based on a true story.
By Raffaelina Lowcock
It was the beginning of Spring, a warm day with green budding trees on April 16th, 1945, when we moved to Kingston Road in the East End of Toronto, a district known now as The Beaches.
The house was one of six new semi-detached two-story red brick homes on the Eastside. It had two small and one fairly large bedrooms, a kitchen, a combination living and dining room, and one bathroom on a 30 x 75-foot lot. It had just been built and the walls were stark white. We were warned that they shouldn't be painted for a few years.
The houses were built just down a bit from a beautiful grove of trees that garnered a private green space where archers practiced, on occasion. It was also like a sanctuary for those who wished to sit and read or enjoy nature. They were just up from an Apartment building that was on the corner of Lee Avenue.
My mother, the other Anna, told us that we girls would be sharing one bedroom which had, much to our dismay, a bunk bed. Mary and I would share the bed on the bottom and Angie would have the top.
Angie said, "I don't see why I have to share a room when Michael is in the Army and hardly ever home, yet he gets a room of his own. Why should he be special?"
Mom and Dad had a bedroom to themselves, of course, that was different.
We sure learned the meaning of cramped and sharing that year.
For months we had been excited about the move and the fact that our parents had bought a house. In those days that was a feat. We had helped with the packing and now we were up to our elbows in newspapers as we helped my mother unpack.
Our mother was a dynamo and never stopped. She had numbered the boxes and initialed the designated room, like K#1 of 12, for instance, and she had a corresponding list with the information. She pointed to the boxes and said, "Angie find all the boxes for your bedroom and unpack. Anna, you do the dining room and Mary the kitchen."
By four o'clock we were washing and drying dishes and placing them into the cupboards in the kitchen, a medium-sized room with pine cupboards along the upper walls above the sink, the stove, and the fridge. Also, into the oak buffet in the dining room.
Mary said, "I'm starving, Mom, when will we start supper?"
My mother said, "Soon dear when Puppa arrives, at 6 o'clock. We'll have it ready by then."
Puppa owned a Cigar Store concession in the same space as two barbers, on Yonge Street near Wellington Street, which is Downtown Toronto. That was why he wasn't with us that day.
When he arrived and opened the front door, he shouted, "HELLOOO."
We ran to him and he opened his arms wide as we all three girls snuggled against him.
He wasn't a big man, not much taller than my mother's five feet but that day he seemed tall with happiness. He looked very handsome with his grey wavy hair, caramel brown kind eyes, and pleasant features. He was a very strong man with a compact build. He was always impeccably dressed and distinguished-looking and wore a suit and tie every day.
He smiled broadly and with a proud voice said, "This is a good place for us, right?"
Together we replied, "YES!"
And Mary said, "Puppa, WE LOVE IT."
When we finally went to bed and all was quiet, it became quite apparent that we were living on a streetcar line. The streetcars CLANKING by the house were very noisy and around 3 a.m. according to my watch, I was still awake. Suddenly the smell of coffee wafted through our room. Curious, I got up and my sisters followed as I made my way to the living room and sat on the couch.
Puppa was there, sitting on the chair that matched the couch, with a wide grin on his face.
"It is so noisy, do you think we'll be able to get used to those streetcars?" I asked.
Puppa shrugged and raised his eyebrows in a "who knows?" manner.
We all laughed and then my Mom came in from the kitchen and said, "Since we're all up and we can't sleep, let's have breakfast."
And with that said, she went back into the kitchen where she was cooking.
It was a rare occasion for this family to be so comfortable with such 'off the wall' behaviour. For years, we had lived with Joseph and Mary, Delmonico, (my mother's mother and father), and their other six children. Although my grandmother was a loving woman, she was very strict and commanded, what she harped on as "honourable behaviour." at all times.
We did move to a house on our own, five years ago, but it had not been far from the relatives. Our families were very close and intertwined daily until this drastic move which was now so far away from them. This seemed to be a harbinger of freer and closer times ahead.
It was such a cozy and happy feeling we shared that morning. Up while it was still dark and having bacon and eggs and toast and coffee! The kitchen wasn't too small, yet we were touching elbows at the table. There was a real connective feeling as we reveled at being in such a pleasant new house. My mother and father had a look of serenity that I had never seen before.
It was a Saturday morning now, so we really had the whole weekend to glory in our new surroundings.
To be continued
|Author Notes||Everything is changing in Anna's world and she is feeling the difference.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
The weekend was over. We were settled into the new house. The commute to school began. We allowed two hours which worked out fine, but the ride home took much longer which meant, we would arrive home between 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. Dinner was moved forward for us to 7 p.m. My father didn't get home until 8:30, so he and my mother had dinner then.
When the next weekend arrived I decided to do some scouting around the neighborhood and in my jeans and sneakers got my bike out. I started checking out the streets around us. One block south was Lee Avenue and it started off with a rather steep hill. I wondered whether I should go down because obviously it was going to be a strenuous climb back up, if not a walk.
"Okay," I decided and started down the hill... it leveled off a few blocks down as I continued. When I came to Queen Street, I wondered what was below and rode further down.
I was totally amazed and pleased to see a lush park, then a boardwalk, and then a lake.
"Wow," I thought. "This is Lake Ontario. Great!"
I got off my bike and sat on one of the benches and looked around the parklike setting, flush with maple and oak trees interspersed around the lush green grass. There were benches facing the lake horizontally situated along a very wide boardwalk. I leaned my bike at the back of one of the benches and sat down again. I was immediately mesmerized by the vast scene.
It felt like I was in the country, and everything this side of the lake was entertainment-oriented. Tennis Courts, a Baseball Field, and Lawn Bowling were close by. There was a large pavilion just this side of the boardwalk. The boardwalk looked to travel miles both to my left and to my right. I thought I would, in the future, like to walk from one end to the other.
Later that summer I walked the boardwalk with my sister Mary and learned that at the west end was The Woodbine Race Track, and at the east end was Balmy Beach Canoe Club, a hub where young people gathered, and young men who belonged, canoed and took part in many regattas during the summer months. We also learned that there were stag dances every Tuesday and Friday night for teenagers. On the weekend there was a band and the dance was for couples.
"Well, what a bonus!" I thought as I felt the warm comforting breeze across my face.
I decided to sit there for a while and watch the waves wash up onto the sand, and ebb back again, dragging huge grains of sand back with each lap. There were gray and white Seagulls pecking at the sand in search of food and many flying over the lake looking for fish.
Feeling very pleased with what I'd found, I headed home to spread the good news. I didn't go back via Lee Avenue. I found another route via Southwood Drive, that wasn't quite as steep.
This was a beautiful upper-scale residential street. The houses here were all different and very large with landscaped land surrounding them.
When I got home from my foray down to the beach, I ran into the house and called, "Mom."
"Guess what's at the bottom of Lee Avenue?"
"What did you find?"
"Lake Ontario, and it is so beautiful."
"Oh my, that is quite a surprise," she said with a broad smile.
I ran upstairs to my bedroom and looked out the back window, and sure enough in the distance, I saw Lake Ontario. I was thrilled!
The rest of the school year was spent commuting back and forth, and thankfully, it was finally over at the end of June.
But before the end of that Grade 8 class, a strange thing happened. There was a girl, Florence Jones, who was in our class. She was there one day and gone the next. No one knew why.
A week later, our teacher, Miss Langford, called an impromptu meeting of all the girls in the 7th and 8th grades. In a very soft-spoken manner, she outlined the birds and the bees to us, along with diagrams on the blackboard and a dire warning. It was so out of the box and kind of scary. I later heard discussions that some classmates had. I never discussed it with anyone, yet, it was ever prominent in my mind: my first introduction to sex.
Later that summer, in August, World War II was finally over and there was much hoopla
in the City of Toronto. Angie, Mary and I, had set out that day to go to a movie, but instead, we got involved along the way with the many Street Dances. Consequently, we got into a lot of trouble with our father because we were lost and that made us so late getting home.
Later that month, we would be choosing the high school we would attend since Angie and Mary finished their year at Loretto College, and I finished my 8th grade at St. Peter's
To be continued...
|Author Notes||In a new neighborhood, there was much to explore.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
Angie and Mary worked at Planter's Peanuts during that summer and I just hung around our home with my mother. Angie was sixteen, Mary was fifteen and I was the youngest, at thirteen.
I gradually felt a vast difference in this home's surroundings. Other than the streetcars, there was a settled atmosphere of calmness, in this environment. I certainly wasn't as troubled as I had been.
I met two girls who had also just moved into the house, three doors up. Sally and Bobby (Barbara ) Battaglia; they were from New Brunswick. Bobby and I hit it off at once. We were both thirteen years old and had much the same interests. Bobby was blonde with a round face and pleasant features. She was a bit on the chubby side.
We found a ravine behind the houses across the street where we investigated the lay of the land and found it an ideal place to picnic. It had a water hole which didn't interest us. We talked about getting a cigar box and filling it with things we liked, then burying it, much like a buried treasure; we were just kids after all and still making up our own entertainment.
Sally was sixteen years old and she chummed with my sisters. She was a pretty girl, about five feet tall, with brown hair and blue eyes.
Up the street, there was a grove about an acre or so and it was a pleasant place to sit and read as the trees surrounding it muffled any noises from the street. It was also a place where archers gathered occasionally. I watched them on one occasion and I was fascinated with their accuracy.
I took many bike rides down to the beach on my own... I liked it that way because
I was a bit of a loner at that time. I sat on one of the park benches at the edge of the boardwalk, just thinking, and taking in the beautiful scenery of the sparkling water, clear blue sky, and various birds flitting through the trees and pecking at the sand.
The sky was different every day and I found the formation of the clouds so interesting. Some days they actually presented a picture of sorts by the way they were attached to each other. This was so peaceful. It was very inspirational and a catalyst for my writing poetry.
The summer was slipping by quickly and thoughts were turning to school. There were two high schools on Malvern Avenue; Notre Dame a Roman Catholic Girls' School and Malvern Collegiate, further up the street, a co-ed public high school. There were a lot of discussions about which one we would go to and we finally chose Malvern.
During these discussions, I occasionally caught my parents eyeing each other with questioning eyes. Something was up?
The week before school started my mother called Angie aside and said, "Hon, I have to tell you that you won't be going back to school."
Angie was shocked, and said, " Why...?
My mother said, "We tried to figure out how you could go back to school, but we just couldn't make it without some extra help from your salary. Puppa has arranged for you to work at Kaplan's Custom Brokers' a company in the building next to his Cigar Store. We really need that help with the mortgage on this house."
She was heartbroken and began to cry. My mother wrapped her arms around her and said, "I'm so sorry Angie, but nothing else can be done. Your brother Michael is in the Army he can't help."
Mary and I felt so guilty as we started preparing to go to school. We were so shocked by the news.
That week we chose what we would wear on our first day. We both wore the same thing, a maroon and powder blue reindeer sweater over a navy pleated skirt with brown penny-loafers.
If we were worried about meeting new people, we needn't have been. The outfits drew immediate attention. From a distance, you would think we were twins, but on closer scrutiny, there was a great difference in our features.
Mary had a lovely sculpted face with a tiny nose and a lovely mouth. Her brown eyes flashed when she spoke and her hair hung just below her shoulders in deep wavy titian curls. She was about five feet tall and rather on the slim side, but with a sturdy frame.
I, on the other hand, had black hair that reached my shoulders and, dark brown eyes. My nose was not tiny. I wasn't slim, but I wasn't chubby either. I was a couple of inches shorter than Mary and I too had a sturdy frame.
We met a lot of very friendly and curious girls and boys that day.
It was an exciting day but also intimidating. There was so much to absorb and such a difference in the way classes were conducted. There was to be a "Home Room" from which we moved from class to class. This was so unlike elementary school it took great concentration.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||The pages are turning faster now with a lot of new beginnings and some heartbreaking decisions.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
From the first day at school, I was extremely happy with my new surroundings. The building was very old but classic. The motif throughout was Traditional and Victorian. Heavy oak doors with brass doorknobs on all the classrooms and huge six-foot windows on the outer classrooms.
The teachers were so amiable. The attitude was so different from the teachers in my elementary school. They talked with you, not at you.
I had a lot of classmates who were quite open and unhesitatingly friendly. They were very curious and asked a lot of questions like, "What elementary school did you attend."
I would answer, "St. Peters."
That would lead to the question one girl, Jackie Carlson asked, "Are you from out of town? I've never heard of that school."
And from there I had to inform her that we just moved to this district and on and on until she was satisfied with the information given to her endless questions.
In the first week of school our "Home Room Teacher" had a "Class Warming Party" at his house, in his backyard. The first person to greet me was a very tall lean boy with wavy blond hair, blue smiling eyes, and wandering hands. He seemed to take over as he sidled up to me and handed me a hot dog
"My name is Len Stewart, and yours?"
I said, "Roseanna Emelia, but everyone calls me Anna."
He seemed very nice and I appreciated his friendly approach, except for his constant touching of my arm, my back, and sometimes my face. Before the night was over, he brazenly embraced me and kissed me and seemed ready to start necking. It wasn't that I disliked him or was not amenable to his advances, but I was so startled that I instantly extracted myself from him because he seemed too aggressive.
The music in the background was "The Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe." To this day, every time I hear that song, I remember that night vividly. It certainly was a good get to know your classmates' party.
During the first few weeks, I had a lot of queries from boys about my sister Mary, which had me looking more closely at her. She was pretty, if not beautiful; something I had never really taken note of, until then.
One specific guy was George Bennet. He was in my class, but more my sister's age. He was very interested and constantly asking where she would be at a specific time. I tried to be helpful and arranged for them to meet on several different occasions. Mary really liked him but was extremely shy, so I acted as the go-between. I have always been more outgoing.
I was stunned by the attention she was getting. This shed a whole new light on our new environment and created a wariness of the situation. My father was very strict, a traditional Italian father who would never allow us to date under the age of sixteen. Even after we reached that age, it was difficult and never more than one beau at a time.
Now, when all this attention was pointed in Mary's direction, she became even shier.
Then suddenly there was Denny Vince. Oh, so handsome very bright fifth-grader and she fell hook line and sinker. Not being allowed to date at that time we were constantly making convoluted arrangements with friends for the initial picking up.
After a date one Saturday night, that my parents were not aware of, Denny asked Mary if he could come into our house. She couldn't say no.
Our parents were out but as it was close to 11 P.M. they would be home in two hours, possibly 12:30 P.M. I nearly fainted when she came into the house and he followed. She made him a cup of tea and gave him a chocolate eclair that my mother had baked. He settled right in as though he was ready to stay for quite a while.
Angie and I went upstairs and waited and waited for him to leave. The time was approaching for my parents to arrive home. I was so nervous. Kneeling beside my bed I prayed seriously that he would leave NOW! He finally left and I collapsed on the bed. Not fifteen minutes later, my parents arrived home. WHEW!
During the first month at school, I noticed a boy that looked like Tom Drake the movie star. I was enthralled with Tom Drake and, consequently, had a huge crush on this boy that I did not know. I found out his name was Bob McNulty. He didn't even know I existed. However, I knew where his every class was, and if you want to call it stalking, that's what I did.
I couldn't see enough of him. Then one of my classmates who knew him told me that Bob was not thrilled with me, and he repeated the words Bob used; some very unmentionable words I will not repeat.
Well, that burst the balloon alright! I didn't chase him around the school anymore. A postscript to this is that one of my girlfriends ended up having to get married to him. I thought, in retrospect, I was lucky I hadn't succeeded in getting him interested in me.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||This is now a challenge Anna is experiencing. New school, new friends and mew situations.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
The Tea Dances, at Malvern, were fun. They were held every Friday at 4 in the afternoon. These were special dances in that students from other schools could attend and if you wanted to go to another school's Tea Dance it was allowed.
Many of the girls had a crush on Vern Buffy (who later became an NHL Referee), and they would mosey on up to Danforth Tech to be where he was.
Jackie Carlson, asked me, "Anna would you like to go to the Danforth Tech Tea Dance with me on Friday?"
"Not really, I like it here at Malvern Jackie."
Later in life when I met Vern, I could not fathom what they all saw in him.
The teenage years at Malvern, and after were wonderful. There were dances, proms, hayrides, and wiener roasts down on the Beach. There were so many fun times. At one of those dances with a well-known radio announcer from CKEY as the emcee, Mary was picked as the most beautiful girl on the floor by one of the students, Vern Johnson. She won a pair of Nylon Stockings (that was the first time we ever heard of "Nylon")
We were both in plays that year: I was the boy who bought the turkey for Ebenezer Scrooge. I was so pleased to have a part in that play, that is until I walked onto the stage. To my chagrin, the audience laughed.
When I went backstage, I asked one of the teachers, "Why did the audience laugh?"
She said, "You had the box facing the audience with the printing showing "Roman Meal."
Mary was in the Spring Show as an Egyptian dancer. Well, that night I saw the beauty beheld by others. She was five feet of litheness among the other dancers. Her brown eyes were twinkling above her button nose and smiling full mouth. Her long and wavy titian hair bounced on her shoulders as she danced in sheer gossamer pantaloons, that enhanced her tiny figure.
Then there was Balmy Beach Canoe Club, where all the action was. There were dances through the week, Tuesdays and Fridays. Saturday nights were with a band and for couples only. I loved the dances throughout the week and attended as many as I could, if allowed. It was how we met some of the boys, and if they asked you to dance just before Intermission, that usually meant they would spend intermission out on the boardwalk with you having a coke and who knew what else?
During March Break, this beach was the place to be. We all migrated there during warming weather on any given day.
Groups of boys and groups of girls; eyeing each other looking for ways to get together, which they always found, one way or another. There were many incidents where someone would be thrown into the lake. If you were chosen somehow you knew it was because you were popular.
Meanwhile, I met a boy from another High School. He was at the Friday night dance at Balmy Beach. He came over to where I was standing, and said, "May I have this dance?"
I looked up and saw this really tall and good looking boy with strawberry blond hair, waiting for me to answer and I said, "Yes."
As I allowed him to guide me to the floor, I asked, "What is your name?"
He said, "Jim Patterson."
When he asked me mine I told him, "Rosanna Emelia, but I go by Anna."
It was the dance before Intermission, and when the dance was finished he asked, "Would you like a coke?"
Of course, I said, "Yes."
While we drank our cokes, we exchanged information. He went to Winston Churchill High School, and he lived in the suburb of Scarborough. I told him about being new in the district and that, I went to Malvern Collegiate.
He was easy to talk to, and as things worked out, we eventually ended up going steady. You might say he was my first real boyfriend and the deep feelings were really the first time I had experienced that kind of attachment to the opposite sex.
I remember that on one of our first dates he took me to the CNE, the Canadian National Exhibition. We had a wonderful day, and during that day, I recall when I held his hand, I felt a definite thrill and realized how attracted I was to him. We were a couple from then on. We had some passionate sessions, but although Jim wanted more intimacy, I would not go along with his desire.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||Every day was new and exciting for the teenaged Roseanna.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
That year, 1946, one of my father's customers, Currier & Smith Custom Brokers hired my sister, Mary, for the summer, but at summer's end, they begged him to let her work there permanently. He could not say no. So, Mary only had one year at Malvern. She was not too happy about that, but she never complained.
With attending classes I missed her being near me. I was getting in a bit of trouble now and then, speaking my mind a little too often. Eventually, I was expelled because of a mixed-up incident.
The day I was expelled, was a definite comedy of errors, one that ultimately became very serious.
My classmates were playing a trick on me, by tying my shoelaces during our Gym Class. They had tied my shoelaces in knots. While fumbling with them I knew I was late for the next class, Library, but kept struggling until they were untangled. So, I was late, and Mr. Anise was unforgiving. He grew very red in the face, not wanting to hear any excuses. He looked right through me and said, "Principal's Office."
In the Principal's office, sitting there while waiting a good fifteen minutes, the realization that this was not funny filled my thoughts. Wondering what the outcome would be and truly wishing this was not going to be too drastic.
The Principal, Mr. Jewel, was a very fair man whom I liked. When he confronted me, he said, "I am very disappointed in you, Anna." He was not interested in hearing my excuse. And then said, "Since this is not our first meeting, I have no alternative but to expel you."
I apologized and literally pleaded to stay, but it was too late.
When I got home, I said, "Mom, I've been expelled."
She said, "Oh no, Anna, why?
After telling her the story she said she was too embarrassed to see the principal. Then said, "When we tell Puppa, I'm sure he'll want you to just quit."
I really did not want to do that because I loved school. However, this time I felt I was finally in a spot from which I could not return. Both my mother and father agreed that I should quit. My father said, "Enough is enough."
I was really upset. I had made a lot of friends at Malvern that I would miss as well I enjoyed the Commercial Course I was taking. I knew I was reaping the consequences of so many stupid actions. I realized I had no one to blame but myself and accepted very sadly, the position I was in.
Another thing, I had never confided in my parents that I wanted to be an artist so they really could not see that I would miss much. But, I knew what it meant. I didn't think too long about it then, but I gave it a lot of thought later.
Having taken the Commercial Course, I did have office skills so I set about looking for an office job. Then wonder of wonders I found a job at a place called Quality Press, a small printing company that was run by a husband and wife. It was a bit of a hoot because all they did was argue with each other. However, it was a job and I settled in. Eventually, I was laid off because of lack of business and I then began work at The Blue Cross. I was there for a few years.
Even though we were no longer at Malvern we retained the many friends we made. In the immediate years, we continued our social life much the same as when we were at school and those associations went on for many years. I believe it had to do with that small-town vibe.
The social activities made it hard to be on time in the mornings, consequently, I had a few jobs before learning my lesson and ending up at Currier & Smith Custom Brokers Limited, where my sister Mary's boss offered me a job.
They were instrumental in clearing goods being imported into Canada from other countries. The goods were called commodities and were classified, and then the entries were typed and presented at Customs for approval.
At my interview with Mr. Currier Sr., a pleasant-faced man with pure grey hair, he said, "Mary is the ideal employee. She does good work and has perfect attendance. We are of a mind that you will be much the same."
I was thrilled and said, "I'll do my best."
Their thinking proved right. Incidentally, they later hired my sister Angie. The Sisters were held in high esteem at Customs.
During this transformation in my life, I was going steady with Jim Patterson, the boy I met the summer before I was expelled. Although I missed school, I kept in touch with my friends and socially it didn't feel like I had left.
So what did I miss; the laid back feeling of just being a teenager, going to school with my friends, experiencing the great times on the way and at the football games; my loyal feeling towards the school, the lunch hour frenzy on Kingston Road, the casual walk home with all the time in the world, with friends, after school like the group with whom I sometimes went to my friend Shirley Lewis's house after school to just listen to music. Being there! So many other things that seemed like " little things" were now " big things" in my memory.
I was still going steady with Jim Patterson when I worked at those first two jobs. He did take me to the Prom when I was still at school and that was just about the loveliest night in my fifteen years of life. He was 6'2" (as I've mentioned before) with strawberry blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He was very athletic-looking, and I was quite smitten with him.
When spring arrived, Jim was trying out for a baseball team "Lions" at Kew Gardens. One Saturday night, he was telling me about this guy on the team that was a fantastic hitter. "Anna, he hit a home run and the ball went over the building where the concessions were, and into the water! Do you know how far that is?"
Wow, he couldn't stop talking about him. I answered, "Sounds like you've got a winner on your team."
A week before his first game, we were on the boardwalk heading to Balmy Beach Canoe Club. It was a beautiful summer night and we met Les Jackson (the homerun hitter) and his friend John Foster. Jim said, "Anna, these guys are on my team, John Foster and Les Jackson."
I said, "Les, I hear you're quite the hitter."
He smiled (OMG) his face lit up, and the way he looked at me made me feel like I was the only person there. My heart flipped when he answered.
"I suppose word gets around," and he dipped his head from his 6 ft. height closer to mine. He was so handsome with his silky blonde hair, perfect profile, and deep blue eyes shaded by fringes of gold and with an adonis like stature. I could hardly breathe. I barely noticed John, who was standing beside him.
They lingered for a few more minutes and then said their goodbyes.
I was at most of the games and I found I enjoyed watching Les on second base. He had a smooth way of bending and throwing all in one action; very entertaining! Also, he seemed to appear often as we headed to a bus or streetcar stop after the games. He had a very pleasant manner; always up and very positive. I saw him a few times as I traveled on the Queen Street streetcar, just around his home district, walking home. My stomach would kind of flip and I wondered just how interested I was?
Not long after, Jim and I broke up. I had no clue as to why other than he had said his family thought he shouldn't go steady. Also, he wanted more intimacy than I was prepared to share.
I went into a deep depression over this and it was literally weeks before I gradually came out of it, with much thanks to Les Jackson who helped me get over this with his caring friendly manner.
It started at the club one Friday night. Les was in the men's stag line across from me and I watched as he made his way toward me. He smiled and asked, "May I have this dance?"
I said, "Hi Les, of course."
He took my hand and we began to dance. I was thinking about what a smooth dancer he was when he asked me, "Why haven't I seen you at the games this week."
I began to tell him about Jim, and I broke into a sob. He steered us to the fenced-in patio which was alongside the dance floor and as he kept his arms around me, handed me his handkerchief. My head was against his chest and he didn't move.
He said, "I'm so sorry I've upset you."
"It's not your fault," I said as I dried my eyes.
We stood there for about five minutes while I composed myself and eventually made our way back to the dance floor and he never took his arm away from me. I was so upset to have broken down into tears while I was with him, but it didn't seem to bother him. He was very caring. When the music ended, we parted. I was disappointed to see him leave early, with John. I kept his handkerchief.
During these very unhappy months, my job at the Blue Cross suffered as I was not my perky self and the job was harder to handle because of my sad attitude toward everything. I had a
Senior, Joan Martin, in charge of me, and Joan literally laid it on the line.
"Anna. either shape up or ship out." So, I knew I had to shape up.
I was communicating by telephone with Les and I took the first step by asking him to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. He accepted and we truly enjoyed the night. After that, it was a few weeks before he asked me out and we began dating.
Jim was suddenly interested in me again and I was dating him as well. Puppa didn't like it and made his feelings known in so many words...the result was I would meet Les at Shirley's house when we went out on any date. I was truly torn between Les and Jim.
I began noticing things about Les like how thick his eyelashes were over his blue eyes. How soft and silky his blond hair always looked. The way he always had his sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows and the cut of his trousers. I thought he was very handsome and so pleasant to be with and I knew I was falling in love. Yet, I still had a soft spot for Jim.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||Although life was a mixture of family love and new experiences, Anna mishandled a few and stumbled along the way as she was evolving. This was a crucial time for her as her future was under scrutiny.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
At one of our Sunday dinners, Puppa said, "I have been writing to my brother, Luciano, since the end of the war, and your mother and I have decided to help him emigrate from Sicily. He will bring his wife and children to Canada, once he is settled."
This was a huge step for my father because until now he had not one relative in Canada from the Emelia family. He could now anticipate a happy future with those who would eventually come to Canada.
After much communication and money forwarding, Luciano arrived in Toronto.
When we first saw him, he looked very tired and his complexion was quite pale. He spoke to my father in Italian and my father translated it to us. "Luciano suffered from seasickness throughout the entire nineteen-day ocean crossing and is just beginning to recover." His pallor affirmed what was said.
My father then said, "Luciano, these are my daughters, Angelina, Maria, and Roseanna."
My parents had friends with whom they partied on Saturday nights and these were invited to a get together along with family, to welcome Luciano's move to Canada.
My father would try to help him find a job. Everyone was helpful and did what they could to make him feel welcome. They had arranged a bedroom in our basement, for now, until he got settled.
One of their friends who ran a company that painted houses, Joe Shapiro, spoke to Puppa about offering Luciano a job, he said, "I need to add another man, Nino, here's my card. When he's ready, call me."
"For sure, Joe. Thanks, and don't worry, I won't forget"
Those friends who were Italian, engaged in conversation with Lou (that's what they decided to call him) about his trip and his seasickness, while others directed some questions to my father or my mother, asking about his family. My father said, "He has five children, two boys, and three girls, back in Sicily and of course his wife. He's hoping it won't be too long before they are able to come here."
My uncle resembled my father in a younger way. He was a few inches taller and quite sturdy looking. His( hair was not quite as gray as my father's but it was thicker and wavier. He had the same caramel eyes but with a depth of sadness. They both had that five o'clock shadow hue to their facial skin.
For some unknown reason, I experienced a weird feeling when I looked at him. It was unsettling.
My father was ten years older than my mother so she was closer to Luciano's age and they related well. It was left up to my mother to give him any help he needed throughout the day.
She was teaching him English and within the first week he was greeting us with, "Good morning" and leaving for his bedroom with, "Good night."
It didn't take him long to adapt to his new life with us. My parents took him to visit some of our family that hadn't been at the welcoming party, and also they spent time showing him around Toronto to familiarize him with the streetcars and buses he would be using each day. All in all, he seemed to be settling in well. He had to take a streetcar to East York, to Joe's company, each morning, and after two days of accompanying him to the streetcar stop and riding and walking to Joe's place, my mother was sure he could do it on his own.
A few months later I noticed something was not right. My mother had changed and I really couldn't put my finger on anything specific except some of the records my mother played lately, were very loud. I wondered if she might be going a little deaf. The songs were of the love-stricken type, such as "Forever and Ever".
I did discuss this with my Senior at The Blue Cross. I said, "Joan something isn't right at home. My mother and father were just months ago really "lovey-dovey. But I don't see that same closeness lately, I'm concerned."
Joan replied, "They may have a problem that you aren't privy to, so don't waste your time worrying. Just keep an eye out and see how it goes."
Then I noticed my father seemed preoccupied. I heard him tell my mother, "The building is going to be torn down in 6 months and the barbers are going to retire. I can't afford to rent another place, on my own. Also, the customers I have had for so long will not be wherever else I go."
He was definitely weighed down with worry. I thought "Maybe this is what is troubling them."
But then I was so wrapped up in myself, and with Les and Jim, I didn't give it too much more thought. Still, I felt something strange was in the air.
It was April and Spring was here with flowering blossoms and beautiful gardens everywhere when my mother on subsequent weekends, took, first Angie, and the next weekend on a Saturday, took Mary, to lunch. Angie happily told me, "We went to the Chicken Palace, I loved what we ordered."
And when Mary got home she was thrilled. She said, "We had such a great lunch at the Chicken Palace."
Then it was my turn and she took me shopping and to lunch at Diana Sweets, the following weekend. This was very strange. Why had she singled us out, alone? Why not all together?
The conversation was also strange. I said, "I think I'm in love with two boys at the same time." My mother wasn't as old fashioned as my father, so I could easily discuss this with her.
She said, "It's possible to love two people at the same time."
Well, I was experiencing this now, but I wondered when my mother had come to that conclusion and why? I was so preoccupied with my world that I did not catch on, but I would soon find out.
Now during all this, I was having trouble sorting my feelings out about Les and Jim. After having agonized about breaking up with Jim, just a short while ago, I was now wondering just what my true feelings were?
Jim kept asking, "Why can't we just go steady again?"
I would answer, "I thought your family didn't want you to go steady."
"Well, I'm not really listening to what they say."
And I would answer, "I'm not ready to go steady again."
I really liked Jim but found I looked forward to seeing Les, with a little more excitement than when I was waiting for Jim.
Eventually after much hullabaloo between Jim and Les, and a confrontation with my father, where he laid down the law, "No Tom Dick and Harry, just one boy!"
Les gave me an ultimatum. He said, "Anna, I can't abide thinking of you with Jim. I am not happy with the way things are. I want you to be my girl exclusively."
I was surprised, but in a level voice, I said, " You know Les, I really have a lot to decide here. Going steady is a serious commitment. May I give you my answer next week?"
Truthfully, I wasn't keen on going steady again but if it meant either that or no more Les, I really had a lot to think about.
He said, "The sooner the better."
The following week we were walking on the boardwalk holding hands. The leaves on the trees that lined the boardwalk were a lush green and the sky was spotted with clouds over the calm Lake. Les asked, "Anna, have you decided?"
"I've thought about it and I honestly cannot see a future without you, so, yes."
His joy shone in his broad smile as he took me in his arms and held me tightly, "Anna, I feel exactly the same."
So, we were a couple from that day forward, and on the first of every month, Les would buy me a Burnt Almond chocolate bar to celebrate our anniversary because it had been June 1st when we started going steady.
Now, Jim was furious. He said, "You said you didn't want to go steady."
He blamed Les for stealing his girl and was very bitter towards Les and me. He called Les a 'Casanova' and related some not so nice things Les had told the team in their locker room about past girlfriends. It did not change my mind.
After promising Les to be his girl, I experienced a truly sick feeling and great empathy for Jim on subsequent days and I wondered why? My mother's words came back to me, but I knew, that if it was true, the greater love I had was for Les.
In those days I was a poet and a songwriter, and I was forever preoccupied with new lyrics and tunes. I could not read or write music, so the tunes were always in my head. During that summer I was attempting to write songs for a musical and one of the songs was called 'When You Are Gone'. On the morning after I wrote it, I was with my mother at breakfast and I said, "I have just written a song and I'd like you to read it, okay?"
I handed her my written song which read...
When you are gone, I will still linger on
I will remain, like the sun and the rain
The sun will shine, the moon will glow
And music will be soft and low
But the one thing that won't be the same
Is the love we had, who will be to blame?
So darling if you ever leave me,
Just remember this
I will sadly linger on, although you're gone.
She looked at the song for a very long time. She didn't look up but I noticed she squinted her eyes. Then she looked up and was frowning in a disturbed manner. Her lips quivered as she said, "What made you write this song?"
"I'm trying to write songs for a musical."
She gave the song back without saying anything. I was left hanging. Did she like it, or didn't she? I would be waiting.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||Some serious changes occur and others need decisions. Life begins to get a little complicated.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
It was a typically hot summer day on July 11th, 1949. The sky was a tender blue and there was a light breeze relieving the heat of the bright sun. I came home from work to an empty house. I sat in the living room reading my book “Gentleman’s Agreement.”
At six o’clock my sister, Angie arrived home, and the first thing she said was, “It must be one of the hottest days we’ve had this summer. I wish we had air conditioning.”
Her dress was rumpled and kind of sticking to her five foot frame, and her damp dark hair had been pushed behind her ears.
I said, "Dream on. Mumma’s not home. Do you know where she is?”
She blinked and rolled her brown eyes as she said, “I haven’t got a clue. But she usually tells us when she’s going to be late getting home. Is this one of those days where she meets with her women friends?”
“I don’t know, but it doesn’t feel right. Let’s just wait another fifteen minutes before we start worrying. Okay?”
I said, “Are we still going to a movie, tomorrow night?”
“Well let’s decide which show we’ll go to. At the Fox, is Gentleman’s Agreement with Dorothy McGuire and Gregory Peck and I’m not sure what the double feature is? At the Beach is Captain from Castile with Tyrone Power and Jean Peters and again, I don’t know the second movie.”
Angie said, “No contest. I love Gregory Peck.”
I said, “Same here. Okay, it’s the Fox. You know, I’m reading that book, right now.”
“Oh, is it any good?”
“I’m enjoying it. The movie should be terrific.”
I returned to my book and Angie went into the kitchen. She came back into the living room with a bottle of coke, sipping it through a straw, and sat in the maroon chesterfield chair.
Ten minutes later, I looked up and she looked back at me and raised her eyebrows. She said, “Anna, are you beginning to wonder?”
I nodded, “Yes.”
We both rose and together went upstairs to my parent’s bedroom.
There was such a vacant feeling touching me as I walked in and looked at the top of the dresser
where my mother's mirror and comb set should be. It was not there. I looked in the drawers and Angie went to the closet. Everything was gone. I looked at Angie as she said, “Oh my God, what does this mean?”
My lips were quivering, and I was squinting back the tears when I answered, "Oh, no! It can't be true Angie. Oh my God, poor Puppa."
We could not believe the implication. We turned and ran downstairs to Luciano's bedroom and found all his clothes were gone! We looked at each other in disbelief and then we were hugging each other and crying. The truth hit! We pulled ourselves together and worried about when Puppa would get home? Really, what would happen?
We sat in the living room as we waited for our father, hugging each other and sobbing. I said, "Angie, when you went out to lunch with Mumma, what did she talk about?"
Angie stared out the window as she collected her thoughts and then said, "It was the weirdest conversation. She asked me what I thought of Uncle Lou. I really had not thought about him, so I just said, he seems very nice. She seemed to be pleased with my answer. Then she started talking about the time I was kidnapped and how worried she was about me and how she loved me. I told her I didn't ever want to think about that time, and she stopped talking about it. After that we just talked about my job and how I was getting along at Kaplan's."
Then she said, "What did you talk about?"
"I talked about how I felt about Jim and Les and she said, 'It's possible to love two people at the same time'."
"Oh Anna what has happened in this house?" she cried
Then our father was finally home and as usual poked his head in the living room and said "Hi" with that big smile that he always showed when he came home. He took one look at us and said "What is it? Is something wrong?"
Well, we haltingly told him, and he was absolutely devastated. But then he said, "Let's call the police, maybe she really didn't want to go." He was in denial.
He said, "He must have forced her to go with him. She loves me. She would never leave us. No, no, never."
Angie and I looked at each other. We had to satisfy him.
Two policemen came. Officer Grant and Officer O'Neil. They asked many questions and examined the two bedrooms.
Officer Grant looked at my father and said, "Mr. Emelia, I really don't think there is anything we can do here. Sorry, but it certainly looks like she left willingly. We can't see any signs of struggle."
My father's face wore a mask of sadness.
When the policemen left my father collapsed against the back of the sofa, bent his face into his hands and sobbed his heart out.
Both of us were broken hearted. Watching him was like a knife twisting in our hearts.
My father kept saying, "Why, why would she do this?" He'd look at us questioningly, "Why? Did I ever mistreat her?"
"Of course not." I said.
He continued talking to himself "What did I do? We didn't fight. She was just fine with me. How long was it going on? What an ungrateful bastard right here in my own house. How could he? My own brother."
On and on he went as we sat there sobbing; too dumbfounded to speak.
Finally, when we were all cried out my father said, "Phone Aunt Betty."
Aunt Betty and her husband Gus arrived with Aunt MaryRose and her husband Frank, and my grandmother. They were all stunned.
Aunt Betty hugged my father and said, "Nino, this is so bad. I don't know what to say."
My grandmother had a handkerchief in her hand she was pulling it as wide as it would go as she sobbed, "Nino, povero uomo." (Nino, poor man) and it continued that way.
They asked questions like, "Couldn't you tell? Where would they go? This is not like Anna." They covered the subject every which way.
My Uncle Frank was close to my father and he cursed Luciano for blatantly taking advantage of his brother Nino who had so generously helped him. "What about his wife in Sicily and his children? What kind of monster is he?"
When they left, they had nothing but kind words for my father. The men hugged him, and the women kissed his cheek.
Aunt Betty said, "Nino take it easy we're here to help anything you need or the girls need, just ask. We'll take care of them."
He sadly said, "Grazie."
My sister Mary was on holiday at her boyfriend Patrick McCormack's cottage, with his family. When she came home the next week all our aunts and uncles and my grandmother were there again and she thought her mother must have died, until we told her.
She was stunned. She broke down in tears and I wrapped my arms around her to soothe her. She said, "That's what she meant."
I said, "Who, what?"
"When she and I were at lunch she was talking about how sometimes things can change when you least expect it and how you should always pay attention to your feelings. I found it odd and couldn't get my head around what she was talking about. Oh, Anna, we let it happen."
I had phoned Les. I told him all the grim details, and we agreed I was to spend the time I needed with my family. We kept in touch by phone for that week.
Now I cannot put into words how I felt. During those first nights, I lay awake well into the early morning hours thinking, "She doesn't love us anymore. She cares more for him than for us. How can that have happened in such a short time?"
The rejection broke my heart. I just couldn't stop thinking about her and worrying about my father. "If I feel rejected, how must he feel?"
I broke out in cold sores, that I remember vividly. I was once again in a deep depression. I couldn't go to work, and I lost my job.
My mother was everything to me. I adored her. I had just turned sixteen and could not envision my future without her. I suddenly felt how selfish I had been to not notice what was happening around me. I thought, "It could be my fault that I should have warned my father when I felt something was in the air, awhile ago. Or, I should have told my mother how much she meant to me." There were so many things to blame myself for that it really became a little overwhelming until I realized there was nothing I could have done.
At that age I could not fathom their romantic attachment. I could never ascribe that kind of love to the older generation, but obviously that is what it was, and I would come to realize that only in my later years.
The question I had in my mind, over and over was, Where are they?
To be continued...
|Author Notes||One of the worst days of Anna's life!|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
Well here I was surrounded by negative waters and fighting each day to keep from drowning in sorrow.
When I woke up each morning the first thing on my mind was... My mother. She’s gone! Where is she? How could she leave not only Puppa, but us children too? What is she thinking, wherever she is? She must be amazed at her own actions. Will this last? Will she return? I miss her so much. A million questions and then the veil of sadness descending upon me before I even got out of bed. Each day was a challenge.
I also had to find another job. That was when my sister Mary arranged for me to be interviewed by her boss and ultimately hired as outlined previously.
It was not easy starting a new job with the sadness washing over me. It became a daily chore to summon a positive attitude and a valid pleasing demeanor.
Being in love during this period was like oil and water. Knowing I had to maintain a semblance of happiness when I was with Les, helped me to overcome the deep waters and swim to the surface again.
Les told me his mother, bless her, so kindly said, “Les be patient with Anna this must be such an enormous tragedy.”
During this trying time, I found myself judging some of my friends. We had a Girls Club meeting, once a month. I would inwardly churn if anyone said, “My mother is bugging me she wants me to…do such and such.” I would immediately defend their mother. They soon stopped complaining.
My mother never left my mind. And to this day I think of her daily. In those days however, I always had the hope that this was just one big mistake that would be set right in the future. I’d think... When we find out where she is, Puppa will surely try to win her back.
Not knowing where she was, was most disturbing.
My aunts began to appear every day. They were so generous with their time. Cooking, cleaning and washing clothes. Teaching Mary and Angie so many things about keeping house and hygiene.
Those were responsibilities we would now have to take over and somehow it happened, I am not too sure just how, because I was in a fog, but obviously Mary and Angie took over and began shouldering the responsibilities. I was exempt because I was the baby of the family and therefore, they did not tax me with anything other than a few chores on the weekend. The hardest part now was I had to iron my own blouses.
My aunts were devoted to us and always had been. They had grown into lovely women and now had their own children and responsibilities. Now, unfortunately, they cared too much.
They began trying to tell my father who we should go out with. My Aunt Maryrose blatantly said, “Nino, why are you allowing your daughters to date an Irishman and an Englishman? Surely, we know enough Italian families that you can introduce them to. There are many Italian boys around for them to meet.”
By now my father was fond of Pat McCormack, Mary’s soon to be fiancé and Les Jackson, my boyfriend so he was appalled by this question. He very calmly said, “It is not for me to tell them who to love.”
It was not long after that when he told both Aunt Betty and Aunt Maryrose we did not need them. He said, “Thank you for all your help with the house and the girls. I do not know how we would have managed without you. It is such a long trip for you and yet you have been so good in making the trip, each day. I know we can manage things now. You’ve taught them so much.”
When we were alone again, we carried on as life required. Somehow now, my strict father of the past, became easier to talk to. We all felt the softening of his heart towards us.
Mary became engaged to Pat and plans began for a wedding come the summer. We, Angie, Mary and I, had fittings for our dresses. Angie was 'Maid of Honor' and I was a 'Bridesmaid.'
The reception would be in both ours and our neighbor’s back yard. There was no fence between the two properties. We would rent tables and umbrellas. Also, we had deep cleaning ahead of us, since the house wasn’t getting the usual care it needed.
Hope and Jim Clarkson, our nextdoor neighbors, were helpful and kind to us during that terrible period. They helped us in so many different ways. The wedding was on July 1st, 1950.
That same year, 1950, on September 1st, Les and I were at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club, at a weekday dance. At intermission, we walked up behind the Club to a treed area. Under a beautiful moonlit sky, Les brought out a small box with a ring. He looked into my eyes, took my hand and with a huge smile he said, “Anna, please say you will marry me.”
I was thrilled. I said, “I will. I love you Les.” We kissed, passionately. He then slid the ring on my finger. The ring was beautiful with seven diamonds. Les said, “Seven diamonds stand for ‘I love you, will you marry me’.” He then said, “I asked your father and he gave me his blessing.”
Knowing he cared about my father’s opinion stirred my heart.
Once again we were caught up in planning a wedding and it would mirror Mary and Pat’s, since it turned out to be a success.
It seemed to me, back then, that when bad things happened, other bad things inevitably followed. I viewed the next event that way.
My grandfather had dementia and was in an Institution where he was being cared for. When Aunt Betty called she said, “The hospital called and said Papa is suffering from pneumonia, and they thought we would want to see him.”
My father said, “Yes, of course. We will come too.”
I loved my grandfather. This was so upsetting. I never felt right about the Institution he was living in. It was not a Senior's Residence, it was more like a Mental Hospital.
I was remembering the many stories, he had told us when we were children. One of the stories was how two of his fingers were cut off at the knuckle. He once said, "I was captured in The Boer War. They put me in a dugout hole and when I tried to escape, with my hands at the top of the hole, they chopped off two fingers."
We gasped, since we believed him. My mother said , "There is no way he was in The Boer War."
Together, we went to see him, and it was obvious he was near the end. He didn't even acknowledge that we were there. I listened and watched as my Aunts took my father aside, Aunt Maryrose said, “Nino, he can’t stay here. We would like to move him to your house for his final days.”
Even though there wouldn’t be that many final days, my father said “And who would look after him? The girls all have jobs to attend.”
She said, “Anna can either quit her job or get a leave of absence.”
My father was visibly shaking as he replied, “No way. Do you know what you are asking her to do? We can barely afford the upcoming wedding. She needs her job. I am sorry Maryrose, it is out of the question."
That straw broke the camel’s back. They would no longer speak to us. They refused to attend any showers and did not attend the wedding. I knew I had to think positively, but it was so difficult.
In the midst of it all, I tried so hard to exist.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||Anna is attempting to meet the many challenges that are appearing in her life.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
I was barely floating from day to day; these were deep waters I had to paddle. But life continued and I gave a pep talk to myself every morning. Remember Anna, smile. Be happy with your colleagues. Don’t let them know you are sad.
Although I enjoyed my new job, it was a struggle each day because it required total concentration. I learned about the different countries' currencies and how the Raters (the men that analyzed the invoices and designated the tariff items) converted them into Canadian dollars to apply the Canadian duties, and sales tax. The typists (I was one of them) would then prepare the B1s, that would be taken to Customs to be approved so the commodities (the goods) would be cleared and delivered. I was eager for the end of each day when I could come up for air.
As well, I was planning our wedding which was set for August 18th, 1951. The actual ceremony would take place at St. John's Chapel in St. Michael's Cathedral. It was a smaller church within the very large downtown Cathedral, where couples of mixed religions were married.
Fittings were once a week. Angie was my 'Maid of Honor'. Les's best friend, from his days at Bruce Public School, was Ted Leach, a successful young man; five feet eleven inches with black hair, dark brown almond shaped eyes that were full of mirth and heavily lashed. His nose was straight, lightly freckled and with his smiley mouth, created a handsome face. He would be the 'Best Man."
He had gone to Eastern Commerce High School because of the Commercial Course and was at one time the President of The Student Council. From that he was easily considered for a place in Eaton's Administrative Office after his graduation. He was engaged to June Waring whom he had been dating from early days in High School.
There were two surprise Showers given. One was by my Girls' Club and the other, by my sisters. My aunts did not attend and of course I was stunned that they would be so revengeful.
I was also shopping for a new wardrobe and specifically a 'Going Away' outfit.
Les was looking after our honeymoon plans and we opted for a resort; Bangor Lodge for one week and since neither of us had ever flown he booked a flight to Buffalo, a twenty-minute flight from Toronto. It would take longer to drive to the Airport than to fly to Buffalo.
Les was not a Catholic so he would be instructed by Monsignor O'Connor at St. John's Church on Kingston Road. This had been a contention. He said, "Why do I have to attend sessions with the Pastor, can't you just tell me?"
"Les, it's a requirement. Just let's get it done, please."
"Okay, but just know that it's only because you want me to."
Basically, it was to inform him of the tenets of the Church to help him understand what his responsibilities would be. In other words, our children would be baptized in the Catholic Church and some other rules pertaining to birth control.
After the sessions, Les said, "I understand much more, now, why they have the sessions. Father O'Connor really gave me a lot of information. He was very understanding and answered all my questions."
Les was a big help through this awful time. At one point he told me about a bad experience when he was younger. I knew he wanted me to know that bad things happened to others.
He said, "I was fourteen years old when I learned my father had joined the Army. This is back in 1944 during World War II. I was devastated! At that age I felt abandoned! I was so upset because I couldn't believe he would voluntarily leave his family, just like that. I felt like he didn't love me. So, I do know a bit of what you're feeling."
I said, "Sounds exactly how I feel now. I can't believe my mother would leave us either."
He continued, "It wasn't as if he was being patriotic. It was like a stupid whim. After work one night he and some buddies went for a beer and that evening they all agreed to join the Army. Now these men were not boys they were all in their thirties. Imagine!
"I wasn't supposed to hear but I did hear my mother crying and telling my dad that he was acting as though he were a younger man or as though he had no responsibilities when he had a wife and three children who depended on him. Nothing changed. He was in the Army and before we knew it, he was shipped off to England! But guess what? He arrived in England and ended up in hospital with pneumonia.
"The worst part of it was my mother couldn't manage financially and had to go to work. She asked me to quit school and get a job, to help. I couldn't say no. I had wanted to be an Archeologist, but that would never happen."
"Oh, Les, how sad."
I truly empathized with him and was pleased that he had told me about that part of his life.
It was a consolation of sorts.
Then two weeks before the wedding we received a letter from my mother! She informed us that they were in Vancouver and in a very garbled way said she missed us.
Although it was a relief to finally hear from her and know where she was, it didn't stop the hurt. I replied without holding back on how their, actions were so awful. I said, "It is so obvious that you were not thinking of us in any way when you made your plans. How upsetting it would be for your children and most of all what a monstrous thing to do to your husband. Is this the way a brother repays the generous heart of the brother who helped him come to Canada? What of his wife and his family, had he left them for good when he came here?
"Your daughter Mary got married. While the wedding was without you, we managed it well enough. Now it's my turn, I am engaged. All my life I have looked forward to the time when I would marry and in my thoughts you were there. I cannot tell you how empty I feel without you. I cannot believe that you could leave us knowing how much you are loved and how much this would hurt us."
I added much more letting her know how sad and devastated we all were, and what a hole she had left.
She then sent a letter saying "I would gladly be at your wedding, but Anna, I cannot afford the train ticket. If you will buy a ticket for me to come to Toronto and return to Vancouver, I will be there."
It was such an outrageous request, of course, we said "No". Even though we said no I still held the view that she would eventually come back to my father. That was my hope and now that we knew where she was, I was sure my father would try to woo her back. That would never happen.
At times it seemed our wedding was an eternity away. We could not get enough of each other. We were the proverbial lovebirds. Yet, when I was alone or with my family, I felt like I was in water over my head.
These were surely choppy waters, but gradually I was coming back, and was now (on the surface) dealing with the day to day events as they arrived.
I did notice that Les seemed to be preoccupied at times and I wondered if he was worried about something. One night I said, "Les you seem troubled. What is bothering you?"
"There's nothing bothering me, just can't wait until we're married."
It seemed a reasonable answer.
Then the week before the wedding he fainted at work. Now I knew something was wrong.
He said, "They called in a doctor and he told me it was the stress of the upcoming wedding. Also, I had to admit I haven't been sleeping well. And Anna, he found I had a hernia, which I'm to look after as soon as possible, after the wedding."
"Les, a hernia! What does that mean?"
"I'm not sure Anna. But we'll make sure we find out."
We agreed we should forget about the wedding night because we would both be exhausted and look forward to our honeymoon at the resort. But even that was questionable.
The other very deep problem was Les's parents. He said, "They have never stopped talking about the difference in our nationality and religion."
I asked, "Have you shared any of the talks you've had with Monsignor O'Connor with them?
"No, of course not."
"Les, we know we can deal with this. Don't worry about that, please. Promise?"
He said, "I promise."
But now I began to wonder if the instruction regarding birth control was having an effect on Les, deep down in his subconscious where he was not in control.
To be continued...
Anna is learning to cope with the reality of her life.
Roseanna Emilia -Anna - Mumma
Anthony Emilia -Nino - Puppa
Michael Emilia -Mike
Angelina Emilia -Angie
Maria Emilia -Mary
Roseanna Emilia -Anna
Luciano Emilia -Nino's brother
Joseph Delmonico - Papa (Grandfather)
Mary Delmonico - Mama (Grandmother)
Uncle Gus Simone (married Aunt Betty)
Uncle Frank Farrow (married Aunt Mary)
By Raffaelina Lowcock
The night before the wedding, I had a very bad headache. A friend, Jackie Summers, was at my house doing my nails and she was also wetting a cloth in cold water every so often and placing it on my forehead.
“Jackie, thank you for being here and doing my nails. This is so helpful."
“Anna, it’s my pleasure. Is your headache really bad?"
“No, the wet cloths are really helping and it’s almost disappearing.”
When Jackie left I went to bed, but sleep evaded me because there was so much whirling around in my head. Thoughts like... My mother and my relatives will not be coming to the wedding.
As I lay there, other thoughts... What if it rains how will all those guests fit in our house? And under all those layers of thought it dawned on me... How lovely it will be sleeping with Les’s arms around me.
My brother Michael was home and I could hear somewhat of a drone of conversation downstairs. My father and he were having a few drinks together. And then I heard a strange sound. Oh, no. I heard Michael sobbing, “But Puppa, how could she?”
This was strange because through all the turmoil about my mother, Michael had only been home once and that was when Mary got married. He seemed okay then, but now he sounded really upset. He had hardly shown any emotion back then, but I guess when you have a drink or two you give in.
As I lay there hearing his heartfelt sobs, I felt so bad and it reminded me of how my father was faring. After work on Saturday nights he went to the St. Lawrence Market and bought various meats and vegetables for Sunday's dinner. Then on Sundays he would start in the morning cooking our dinner.
He was a good cook. The thing was though, he would always have a cup of coffee near him and into that coffee he would add some sort of alcohol. He was smiling and happy and he would have the recorder going with Caruso or Gigli singing arias from very sad operas. After a few hours he would noticeably be drowning in sorrow and break down and sob. This was to be the scenario for many a Sunday. He would end up on the couch and he would not eat dinner.
Those were my thoughts the night before my wedding. And as I was dropping off, I thought... poor Michael, finally facing the truth.
In the morning when I awoke, the weather was fine. The day was sunshiny with clear skies.
There was a bit of a hitch that morning. I heard my father say, “Damn it!”
I went to his room and saw what he was cursing about. The tuxedo was way too big for him.
I said, “Don’t worry Puppa, just wear your own suit, it’ll be fine.”
“Yes, I guess that will have to do.”
Everything else ran smoothly. The photographer was on time. The limousine was on time. I was ready. My maid of honour, Angie, was ready. Puppa looked at me and said, “You look so beautiful.”
The look on his face when he said that brought tears to my eyes as I replied, “Thank you.”
I felt beautiful in my white embroidered organdy dress with a ruffled collar and three-tiered skirt over taffeta. The finger tipped veil was held by a close-fitting cloche and I was carrying a bouquet of deep red roses.
I looked at Angie in her mauve embroidered eyelet organdy over taffeta dress, ballerina length with her close-fitting cloche to match and her bouquet of pink roses and thought, how lovely she looks.
We made our way downstairs and out the front door. We piled into the limousine and drove off.
Just as our limousine was almost at St. Michael’s, turning off Queen Street, I saw my Aunt Betty get off a streetcar. I was stunned. She was going to the service for my wedding. This truly upset me. This was my favourite aunt. She should have been in a limousine like us, if things had been normal between us. The very fact that she had come all that way by streetcar rattled me to no end. Shades of Stella Dallas!
"Angie! Look, there's Auntie Betty. I feel so awful seeing her alone and coming by streetcar."
"Your right. It does feel bad. Do you think she'll talk to us?"
"I really have no idea, it's just so upsetting."
When we arrived at the church and were in the vestibule, I looked for my aunt but could not see too far into the chapel. As we were preparing to walk down the aisle, my sister Mary appeared. She looked so beautiful in a cocoa and white outfit. Her titian hair was very stylish under a white straw hat, but her beautiful face looked so pinched that I wondered if it had anything to do with my Aunt Betty. Mary then walked down the aisle, as my mother would have, and when she knelt down in the pew, she bent her head into her hands and began to sob.
It was so heartbreaking to see her in so much distress. I then looked down the aisle at Les and Ted Leach, waiting at the altar. I was shocked at how white Les looked. He looked sick and his jacket was kind of caught up on one side.
We walked down the aisle to the awaiting priest, Father Monahan. When he began to speak it was so fast you could hardly make out what he was saying. What was his hurry? I thought. Then I noticed the front of his garment was spattered with egg. What else? It was disgusting. When he finally said, “Do you Anna, take this man… I could not answer. Everything had overwhelmed me. There was quite a long silence and then murmurs in the church and suddenly I burst out crying. Once I released all my tensions by crying, I regained my composure and after a moment I very quietly said ,“I do”.
Despite the negative beginning the rest of the day went very smoothly. That evening we changed into our going away clothes. My outfit was a dress made of dimity. It was patterned with miniature lilacs and a filigreed collar. It had a thin purple velvet belt. My hat was a white straw cloche with a purple velvet band around the crown. Over that dress I wore a white crepe coat with purple rounded buttons just below the collar. My purse and shoes were purple.
I threw the bouquet; my friend Shirley Lewis caught it. We then got in a waiting taxi. When the taxi took off, we just sank back.
Les hugged me and said, “At last, just us. Anna, do you know how much I love you?"
“Yes, Les, I truly do, as I hope you know I love you too.”
"Anna, I know how you've missed having your mother at our wedding and I promise I will try to help you put some of this sadness behind us."
"Les, I don't want you to worry about me, I will be okay."
We stayed in each other's arms all the way downtown.
We booked into the Park Plaza and were escorted to our room. In our room we looked at each other in disbelief that we were finally there. We embraced and kind of fell on the bed while we kissed long and hard. It was so heavenly to be alone at last.
Les phoned room service and I went into the bathroom to change into my nightgown and negligee. Then he changed into his pajamas and robe. We had a lovely dinner in our room and champagne. We laughed about a few incidents that happened at the wedding but were exhausted and could hardly finish any of the meal or the champagne.
"Les I'm so tired, sorry but I can't keep my eyes open."
"Me too, and as we discussed, we'll take it slow. We have Mass in the morning and then after breakfast the limousine for the Resort. We should go to sleep now."
We had previously discussed these plans because of Les’s hernia. We fell asleep in each other’s arms.
The next morning, we went to the 8 o’clock mass at St. Basil’s Church, which is a few blocks away from the Park Plaza. I was surprised at how long and narrow it was and yet it was quite beautiful.
After mass we went to Child’s cafeteria, just down from the hotel, and had breakfast. We then got our things together, checked out and awaited our limousine.
I said, “How long a trip will this be Les?”
“Probably two or three hours. It depends on whether they will be picking anyone else up.”
We were both very content as we waited for the limousine and talked about what we would enjoy at the Resort.
The trip up to the Resort was very stilted and rather tense since all the passengers were strangers. Small talk was attempted but not too often.
We arrived at Bangor Lodge and after registration we were shown to our room. It was not a big room just a double bed and a bureau. I sat on the bed and lo and behold the springs sang. A loud creak accompanied every loud move. Oh no. Also, the bathroom was at the end of the hall and it was used by all. What does that tell you?
My sister Mary’s girlfriend, Agnes Carter was married in St. John’s Chapel at St. Michael’s Cathedral, an hour before our wedding. They were also at Bangor Lodge for their honeymoon. You could not plan anything so coincidental. We spent a lot of enjoyable time with them and both couples were teased constantly in many ways because we were newlyweds. All in all we had a happy week if not too romantic.
To be continued...
Anna is struggling between happiness and deep sadness on the brink of the biggest and what should be the happiest day of her life.
Stella Dallas was a movie about a somewhat ill bred mother who was not invited to her daughters wedding, but was outside in an obscure place observing it through a front window.
By Raffaelina Lowcock
When we ended our week at Bangor Lodge, we said goodbye to Agnes and Tom Bennett with whom we had truly enjoyed sharing time. We laughed about the squeaky beds and made a tentative arrangement to get together soon.
We arrived home on a Saturday at 88 Courcelette Avenue, our new accommodations; two and a half rooms that were a mess with packed boxes and wedding presents strewn about.
We sat in our living room hugging each other. Tacitly pleased to be finally in our own place. Les said, “This is all ours Anna.”
I smiled, “Such as it is.. A true and glorious mess., right? The kitchen really is a half room.”
As we tightened our hug. we heard voices and the couple that lived in the rooms down the hall appeared in the doorway.
The gentleman said, “Hi, we’re your neighbours.” And, extending his hand he added, “Jess and Laura Hayes. Welcome aboard.
Les stood up and shook hands and said, “Hi, thanks for stopping by. This is Anna and I’m Les Jackson.”
We spent a few minutes discussing the arrangements. Laura said, “She’s not home now, but our daughter’s name is Sandy.”
After a few minutes of conversation, they went back to their end of the house.
We resumed our investigation of Wedding gifts and our unpacking of some other possessions.
On Sunday my father had a small gathering with Les’s parents and his twelve-year old sister Irene, my brother Michael, Mary, Pat, and Angie.
One of the first questions from Mrs. Jackson, was, “Well how are you enjoying married life?
“It’s wonderful.” I replied.
Les smiled and hugged me to him.
Everyone seemed so happy for us and of course they knew nothing about Les’s hernia, nor the squeaky bed. Only we knew of this disparaging beginning as we shared their blessings.
I must say, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, appeared to have come to the knowledge that we were now a couple finally, and faced the fact. They were very accepting of the situation and seemed to settle in well with my father. Thank God.
The following day we were off to Buffalo. We no sooner buckled up and we were told that we were about to land. It took 1 hour by taxi to get to the airport but only 20 minutes to fly to Buffalo. We were both thrilled with the flight.
When we got into a taxi and started our search for a hotel the cab driver said, “Unless you have a reservation, it will be useless to try to get a room. There is an Elk’s Convention this week and it is huge.”
Les was visibly upset and said, “What do we do?”
The cab driver suggested, “Let’s try the Bed and Breakfast corridor.”
After a few stops, we found a Bed and Breakfast place on Delaware Avenue, which was much like our streets above Bloor in Toronto. It was quite classy, and we were lucky to find it. The next few days were spent shopping, as we Canadians always do when in the United States, because of the lower prices.
That foray to Buffalo was a lot of fun as we shopped, ate out in some interesting restaurants and visited the bars that featured jazz artists, in the evening. One memorable show was with Nellie Lutcher.
There was one thing I didn’t like and that was not having any money of my own. Les took charge and anything I wanted, he paid for. Diplomatically I said, “Les, I really don’t like bothering you for every little thing I want. I need to disperse my own funds for whatever I want to buy. Let’s arrange for me to look after my own purchases.”
He understood and we came to a nominal agreement. Problem solved.
It was a short but sweet trip. We reveled in the fact that we were sleeping in each other’s arms. We decided to put off consummating our marriage until Les had the surgery and recuperated. But there was a whole lot of petting going on.
The ride home from the airport was rather entertaining as the cabdriver had just driven Jimmy Durante to the airport and told us, “He takes a special trip to Toronto’s men’s clothier “Ely’s” every year to buy sweaters and socks.”
I knew where Ely’s was, because they were one of the Customers at Currier & Smith Limited where I worked.
They imported those sweaters (cashmere) and socks from England.
When we returned home, we had some settling in to tend to and we both returned to work on the following Monday. It was really left up to me to finalize where everything should go regarding our home of two and a half rooms. I was upset with the mess and couldn’t help crying. Les was immediately concerned. “What is it Anna? Why are you crying.”
“I don’t know. I feel a bit overwhelmed, I guess.” I struggled back to normalcy. “I’m okay now. Let’s sort this out.”
“Yes, let's, but why are you whispering?”
“They are so close.” They were the other couple and their daughter who lived at the opposite end on the second floor of the house that our rooms were in. Jess and Laura Hayes and their daughter Sandy. We shared a bathroom with them. It wasn’t a good arrangement.
I lowered my voice, “When they talk, I can hear every word they say. So, they can hear us.”
Les lifted his eyebrows. “Something we’ll have to get used to,” he said softly.
The gist of the matter was we could never have any intimate conversations in those rooms. It was only when we were out, that we shared how we felt. It was a very unhappy and confining situation.
We heard Sandy before we met her. She had a terribly out of tune voice when she sang and that was often.
There were a few things I found difficult to get used to. I soon realized that Les hardly ever said no to his male friends, who sometimes had Friday night poker games or on Saturday afternoons went downtown to the Spadina Clothing District and Sundays in the morning or afternoon down to the Park at the Beach for touch football.
I on the other hand was not going out with the girls on all those occasions; mostly I would be at home either washing clothes or ironing them or cleaning the rooms. Now faced with the drudgery side of love, I began feeling abandoned, and on a few of those occasions, I remember thinking, I wish I were back home. I remember feeling so alone. I missed my sister Angie and my father, baby Karen and Mary and Pat who were living at our house for a month before they moved into the house they bought.
Of course, I was thinking about my mother and missing her terribly. I would suddenly have tears running down my face. I knew this wasn’t mentally healthy and I would rally myself into a happier mood. I never let Les know how I felt.
I decided I should start drawing again so that I had other interests. Also, I went to the Library at Lee Avenue and Queen Street East, regularly and searched for self-help books. I found a book that I absolutely loved and that helped me then and through the rest of my life. The book was “Calm Yourself” by Fenwick Holmes. The subject referred to was ME and how in all the world each of us is completely different and that we alone can solve our problems because of this difference, and of course, with the help of God.
I started practicing “Mind Over Matter” by meditating and focusing on the matters that needed my attention. It helped me soar.
I looked at my job with a whole new perspective. I realized it wasn’t just a chore but a venue for learning. I was assisting companies all over Toronto in clearing the commodities (products) they needed to survive in their businesses. As well I was learning where all these goods were coming from all over the world. Stuff I didn’t know existed. I was also aware of the currencies of those companies and conversion rates at any given time and much more. This did not go unnoticed by my bosses.
One day I bought four roses and four vases. I put a vase with a rose on each of the four bosses' desks. I refilled their vases as the roses died. They were quite impressed and asked me to continue, but they insisted on reimbursing me.
I then had a much better attitude to all this and I was arming myself to deal with the “Elephant In The Room” when the doctor told Les he had booked him for surgery at the Shouldice Clinic, a private hospital where they specialized in hernia surgeries.
Les told me with a smile on his face. “Finally, Anna. Let’s hope all goes well and it doesn’t take too long for me to recuperate.”
“You sound good and positive. I’m sure it will go well.”
The surgery was a success. Les said, “I am a little uncomfortable, but nothing like I thought I would be.”
He hadn’t recovered but was able to return to work in a week. Then in a few more weeks he
took me in his arms and said, “Anna, I’m back.”
We laughed as we knowingly looked into each other’s eyes.
We planned on an upcoming Friday to celebrate by going out to dinner and spending the weekend at the Park Plaza hotel. It would stretch our budget, but we knew it was important.
On the Wednesday before that Friday, out of the blue, Les had major throat problems and was booked into hospital for a tonsillectomy on a Friday. We were blindsided by this. It seemed there was always something to keep us apart.
The tonsillectomy went well, but Les was depressed and that delayed his well-being. He took twice as long as it would normally take, to recover.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||There are a few realizations Anna comes to as she adjusts to married life. The independence question is an ambiguous idea that needs a new definition in the new circumstances. Then there's the drudgery side of love, that is squarely on her shoulders.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
The sudden problem with Les’s tonsils and the ensuing tonsillectomy was such a terrible surprise with the disappointing result of Les’s depression.
Acting as though everything was fine, was rather taxing, especially at Girl’s Club. They wanted to know more about sex after marriage and it was difficult to deal with. The one that was the most interested was Jackie Carlson, the girl that was going steady with Bob McNulty, the boy I had a crush on in High School.
“Tell us what complete love is like.” She asked.
I thought, I wish I knew, but simply answered, ‘No way I’m discussing my private life with you girls.”
“Why not?” That from Pam Wingate.
The rest of the girls, Jackie Summers, Carol Crawford, the twins, Jackie and Marilyn Williams,
Jane Gordon, Shirley Miller, and Bev Lawrence were just as eager and added to the tumult. Of course, I would not budge.
In retrospect I am seriously thinking of quitting even though I was the one who initiated the Club in the first place. The thought that we might help some causes in the community never happened. Instead, it seemed, a venue for gossip which I cannot abide.
I secretly wondered what they would say if they knew we were not experiencing complete love.
Meanwhile, I was at sea about Les’s depression.
He did not say he was depressed, but I could tell by the way he would stop talking for long spells as he stared off into who knew what. Often, his whole body seemed to cave in like he had just run a mile and he was exhausted.
I tried to understand why, and of course when I thought it through it was not hard to see what might be going on in his mind. Firstly, the stress of knowing he had to have hernia surgery. Secondly, holding back the consummation of our marriage until his hernia surgery and recovery was bad enough, but then the tonsillectomy as soon as he had recovered was too much.
I felt much the same for a while, I knew what he might be going through because I was having my own longings. I loved him so much and I yearned for him to wrap his arms around me and for things to be the way they should be when you're married. I was reading Calm Yourself, which was rallying me through my really deeply sad times and trying hard to practice “Mind Over Matter.”
I asked, “Les, I know you’ve been through so much, but is there something else?
“Well, I’ve been seriously thinking of finding a new job. I don’t see much of a future at Baker Platinum. The most that I could achieve there is becoming a salesman. Management always comes from the main branch.”
This was a surprise to me. I had no idea he was not happy at his job. I answered, “Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“There’s been so much to contend with, I didn’t want you worrying.”
“Well, have you decided yet.”
“Yes, I’m going to quit. Is that okay with you?”
“Of course. Whatever you feel you have to do.”
“That’s a relief. I’m glad you agree.”
He found another job he thought he would do well at. It was a company called Barret Roofing.
When he returned to work, he handed in his resignation.
Unfortunately, that job did not turn out to be very satisfying.
Les called his Uncle Ernie who owned his own business. He met with him and Ernie hired Les at a lower wage than he was receiving, but his future was brighter. I had a good feeling about this. He spent a month inside the plant learning every aspect of each department. It was a Printing and Direct Mail Advertising Company called Key Advertising Service Limited.
Once he seemed to have absorbed exactly what Ernie was selling, Ernie decided he should learn to drive and be the Truck Driver/Salesman. Les would deliver at the back, with a smock on. Then he would take the smock off and go into the front door and sell Ernie’s services. Ernie also told Les he would be in management eventually if that was his aim. He stressed that he needed someone he could trust.
He encouraged him to join the Young Men’s Advertising Club, which he did.
Well, all that took its toll on us. Les, until he learned to drive, was taking the streetcar to Willowdale, which was a good two-hour ride in the morning and two and half or more coming home. Les was in bed by 9:00 P.M. and up at 5 A.M. We hardly spent much time together and I was just so lonely spending my nights alone and waking up with him gone. I talked myself out of being desperate and faithfully read my book. I thought long and hard about how to make things better.
When he was taking driving lessons, he could not go to bed early so consequently his hours were upside down. Finally, after one and a half weeks, he got his license, and Ernie sold us his wife Muriel’s grey 1950 Chevrolet.
The first night we took it out we went to the Beach Theatre. When we came out, at about 11 o’clock, we had a flat tire. Les was at sea. He did not have a clue yet how to deal with this. He phoned his friend Bill Cook, and he came and changed the tire for Les. Now, that is Friendship with a capital F.
My mother had proposed that she would like to return, and everyone was ecstatic. My father and she exchanged letters, and he sent money for her train ticket. I have no idea what was in their correspondence. I can only imagine.
It seemed all was forgiven (sort of), and we met her at Union Station, tearfully happy. She cried and hugged us all, except Puppa, who stayed well apart from us.
When my mother hugged me tightly, she said “Anna, my baby.” I just melted.
We took a taxi back to my father’s house. My mother sat between Mary and me holding our hands with her fingers intertwined. I found this so hard to believe. She was actually back in our lives. I could not get over my joy.
The atmosphere at my father’s house was stilted. Puppa stayed in the kitchen longer than was necessary, putting finger food together while we sat in the living room with our mother.
When he finally came in, I noticed both of them avoiding eye contact. I wondered what the scenario would be when we left.
Mary and I brought our Wedding Albums earlier, and my mother happily looked through them.
She asked, “Did you both have the same dressmaker?”
I answered, “Yes, we both used Mr. Simmons.”
“He did a lovely job. You both look so beautiful. I was so sad not to be here for the weddings. Did your Aunt Betty walk down the aisle in my place?”
We looked at each other and Mary spoke, “None of the Delmonicos were at the wedding.”
My mother was obviously not aware of our estrangement and looked quite surprised.
I said, “We had a disagreement but let’s not discuss that now. We’ll fill you in later.”
“I do want to know. Can I ask you girls a favour?”
“Of course,” Angie said.
“Let’s just enjoy being together for a little while and please don’t ask me to talk about my leaving here. Later, when we are settled in, we can talk. It’s hard to think about.”
Mary, Angie, and I nodded our agreement. But I thought that was a very odd thing to ask. We were wanting to know as much as possible
We talked about the weddings and our honeymoons and Mary’s daughter, Karen, who had been next door at Puppa’s neighbour’s and now joined us. My mother was totally engaged with her granddaughter, who was now walking and was going from one of us to the other.
Les picked Mary, Karen, and me up later and drove us home.
I wasn’t privy to how my father and mother got along since I only saw her two more times for lunch the following week. But I am sure it wasn’t a walk in the park. I intended to ask Angie how things went.
Here is the killer. She stayed about one week and then left again. Apparently, Lou had returned with her and went on to Hamilton, to find a job and a place they could live. My mother deserved the Oscar for her Academy Award performance.
My father had a heart attack and ended up in East General for a few weeks. Then home to recuperate. Talk about sad and twisting the knife. Really! These were not good cards being dealt.
There was another reason for returning to Toronto, that being to sue my father for the house.
It seemed she had been in touch with her family and they persuaded her to come back and sue for the house. Our loving relatives!
The lawyer that represented Puppa was not too swift, in my estimation he did not really understand who was at fault here. His assistant was no better and consequently he lost the case.
Fortunately, my mother had second thoughts and they came to a settlement. When the house was sold, they split the proceeds.
My father bought another house.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||In life there are good times and bad times and sometimes, just bad times for long periods and then the trust you had escapes the heart that held it.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
During this period of time, Les and I had decided we must move out of our two and a half room-environment. That would be step one to solving the problem that was getting larger by the day.
Les found an interesting ad under Rentals.
“Anna, here is something that we might like. It’s on Kingswood Road, which is a lovely street.”
“Okay, let’s make an appointment.”
We went to see it on a Saturday. It was perfect. The kitchen was on the second floor and so was the bathroom. There was a large bedroom on the third floor as well as a large living room that was separated by a roomy hallway.
I said, “This is fine. I like it Les, what do you think?”
Les turned to our future Landlord and said, “We’ll take it.”
We moved in the following week.
In our kitchen there was a window where we placed our table and the view was a ravine. I often sat there viewing the loveliness of the forest filled with beautiful trees and wildflowers in a myriad of colours as I wrote poetry inspired by the scenery.
I went to see my former high school teacher, Percy Gardiner, who was the Guidance Counselor at Malvern Collegiate. I wanted to know if there were any night courses.
He advised, “Perhaps you should register with the Correspondence Courses.”
I registered in History and English Composition.
I did the lessons faithfully which helped me during the empty evenings when Les worked overtime or attended meetings. I got good marks and found I loved the lessons.
Still, the thing that mattered most, the consummation of our marriage, was neglected. I felt we were drifting far apart with the new circumstances. We were hardly together through the week.
I was more intellectually engaged, and my thoughts were quite analytically inclined towards Les. I began to wonder how all this would end because it could not go on. I also noticed when we were at anything social, Les seemed to spend more time with the others than he did with me. That hurt badly. There was no doubt in my mind that I was being neglected.
Some nights as I lay beside him, while he was sleeping, I would feel the tears dripping down my cheeks onto my pillow. I longed for him to take me in his arms and love me. I was too timid and undemanding. I was reluctant to make the first move.
And then, Les began to have pain in his thigh.
He said, “I can’t determine where exactly it hurts. It just seems to suffuse my right hip with pain. I don’t even know what brings it on.”
He was admitted to East General Hospital and was under surveillance for a few weeks. He happened to be sharing a room with another patient who had cancer of the bone and you might guess he was convinced that was his problem. My husband was becoming a hypochondriac.
The doctor requested a one-on-one meeting with Les where he asked him to be candid about what was happening in his life. Les told him everything about what he had experienced from the wedding until then. The doctor then requested a meeting with the two of us.
At that meeting the doctor said, “There is nothing in your tests to indicate problems now or in the future Les. With what you've told me I believe it is psychological and is related to your failure to consummate your marriage. The problem is not your physical health. I think with the hernia surgery and subsequent tonsillectomy you are very tense. Try not thinking about the problem. Do something relaxing and when you make love just don’t stop.”
He looked at me and said, “Is this more or less what you think?”
I said, “Not exactly, but I feel somewhat the same about it being psychological.”
It was Pseudo-something. Well, that didn’t really surprise me.
Something was amiss here. Later when we were at home, I asked, “Les, are you worried about birth control? There is the Rhythm System that I can follow that tells me when in the month is the safest time.”
“Yes,” he said, “I know that’s part of it. I’ve been going to my mother’s house for lunch once in a while, and she keeps asking me and warning me that we shouldn’t have a baby yet. We should make sure we are financially fixed first, because of all the problems they had during the Depression, two years after I was born. Apparently, they lost their house.”
Now this put credence to my thought that he was worried about birth control. I could see how someone constantly reminding him about not getting me pregnant, could prey on his mind.
“So, okay we’ll check out the Rhythm System. I’ll let you know how it works.”
Well, even though I told him the dates that we would be safe, it didn’t happen. We were just not communicating. I was beyond frustrated with the entire scenario. I doubled down on my education. I registered for Spanish at Jarvis Collegiate and Geometry at Harbord Collegiate.
The months were flying by and before we knew it, we were into almost two years.
I needed to talk to someone, but this was so personal. I knew I should ask my sister Mary for advice but I was reluctant to tell anyone just yet.
My friend Isobel had confided in me when she was first married, that they were unable to complete the act. They eventually divorced. I wondered did that have an effect on me? For me, as a Roman Catholic, there was no question of divorce. There was so much to wonder about. I had to take some responsibility, I thought.
Meanwhile in the spring, we were at Don Craig’s one Saturday night when Bill Cook made a proposal. “What do you think about renting a cottage on Lake Simcoe in the month of July, for our group?"
Not everyone agreed, but it ended up with eight of us ready, willing, and able, although I had my doubts as to whether or not we should join in, Les definitely was in.
It didn’t take us long to find a cottage. The group consisted of Les and me, Bill Cook and Peggy, his wife, Jackie Summers, Bob Pemberton, Carol Crawford, Jack Philips, Don Craig and Mary Kosiak.
Now, guess what? It didn’t help our situation one bit. Sex on the weekend with an additional eight people in the same cottage, no way! The weekdays weren’t too good either, since we were busy with keeping up with our jobs. The situation was that on Friday nights some of the men and women went up to the cottage in Don’s car and/or hitch- hiked, while the rest went up on the Saturday, by bus.
That summer was an experience. Learning to get along with all those friends in close quarters and compromising when it came to meals and games, was good practice for future experiences.
Down the road from our cottage Vern Buffy and his family had a cottage and since Don Craig and he were friends we occasionally got together.
When August rolled around, and the Canadian National Exhibition was gearing up to open, I saw an advertisement in the paper wanting artists for portrait drawing. I had an interview with Hughie Forbes who was a famous Caricature Artist for the Telegram Newspaper.
Although I was an artist and would have wanted to pursue that career, having to quit High School, prematurely
stifled that goal.
I told him, “I don’t have much experience in portrait drawing.”
He said, “You’ll learn more in two weeks at the CNE than in any art course.”
So, I braved it. Les was beside himself. He was so worried because he didn’t think I could do it. I on the other hand was eager for the challenge.
On the first day, I hung back. I watched the other artists and if someone asked me to do a portrait, I would direct them to one of the other artists. Then I realized that would never do and started tentatively to become involved. I did learn a lot by watching and asking the other artists about certain techniques and I became more confident as the weeks wore on.
Les came down and hovered around me. “Are you okay?” He’d ask.
“Les, honestly, don’t worry. I’m fine.
I knew I was an artist and could draw well. That had been my goal at first when I discovered my talent. But, when I had to quit school prematurely, It was not to be. Also, Les had indicated that Commercial Artists were a dime a dozen and without certification, I didn't stand a chance in that venue.
He was worried sick that I would be embarrassed. It didn’t work out that way and he soon stopped worrying. He was so set in his ways that out of the box actions really threw him for a loop. I wasn’t that way. I was all for trying new things always.
To be continued...
|Author Notes||Filling my life with meaning became somewhat of a chore, but I was determined to be active rather than sitting back and watching the time fly by.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
In July of 1949, our mother left our family behind and discreetly went with my uncle to Vancouver. It is the anniversary of that event that crowds my mind four years later when I wake up. I realize the date and remember.
Today Mary Kosiak and Don Craig are getting married. I try to get my mother out of my mind by concentrating on making sure my husband Les is totally prepared for his part as one of the ushers at the wedding party. I can see he is sort of quiet this morning. I ask, "Is there something you're concerned about?"
"Just trying to figure out what tie would be appropriate. Also, Anna, I know the date is disturbing, how are you?"
"Yes, of course it is, but I'm okay" I lied. "I think a darkish maroon colour would be okay."
What I harbour is like a wound that never heals, with endless pain hidden beneath still waters that intermittently rise, sending that pain once again to the surface, as is happening today. Why burden someone else with that?
I now focus on what I will be wearing. I choose a dress that is made of white dimity and sprinkled with miniature lilacs. The neckline is filigreed. It is a lovely dress that compliments my looks so that I feel attractive. The hat I wear is a white cloche with purple velvet trim. The shoes and bag are purple to match the trimmings of the hat and the slight velvet belt on the dress. Actu ally, this was my going away outfit, at my wedding, almost two years ago.
Today the weather is beautiful. Sunshine and a clear blue sky promising 'no rain', prevails as we leave for the church in our 98 Oldsmobile. It is a thirty-minute drive.
As we travel, I gaze out the window. Along the way I am in deep thought about my mother then abruptly I snap out of it and decide on a light conversation about Don and Mary.
"Did Don tell you where they are going on their honeymoon?" I ask.
"Not specifically, but they will be driving down the Eastern Coast of the U.S. just as far as Cape Cod. Sounds like a trip we should take. What do you think?"
"I would love that."
"Good. Let's talk to Bill and Peg about the trip and I'll ask Don to keep towns and motel names for us."
"Maybe we should just go by ourselves Les. Don't you think it might be just the sort of trip that will get us back on track?"
"Yes, but first of all, I'm a new driver. I really need someone to spell me and someone who knows about cars. Secondly, the gas is a little more than we can afford if we go alone. We will be in different rooms wherever we go."
"You're right, of course, that makes sense. Okay, we'll talk to them."
Les wasn't aware that my state of mind was other than I had indicated earlier and I didn't want him to know how this day was really affecting me, so I carried on in a light-hearted manner for the entire trip and tried staying cheerful throughout the day.
It was a lovely wedding, The church service wasn't too long. The wedding party, bridesmaids, maid of honor and ushers were all beautifully attired. The reception with it's scrumptious Hungarian Cuisine could take your mind off anything unpleasant. It was held in a cafe called European Delights, with facilities at the back for receptions.
When evening arrived, preparations were made for dancing and Mary's brothers, Johnny and Frank, provided
the music. They were musicians in a small four-man combo.
Mary is Czechoslovakian and one of their wedding customs is having the bride and groom lead the first dance while guests donate money that will give the couple a good start, by dropping it into a box. This started the dancing off.
I was just coming away from dancing with Les, when I noticed a very tall figure in a Houndstooth sports jacket. He was about 6'5" and lanky, about twentyish and very striking! His black hair was combed back and topped black eyebrows above intense brown eyes that seemed to be searching the room. The composite of his face was extremely handsome. He was a head-turning and attractive young man.
Les was headed for one of our friends' wives as I began a conversation with another friend, Bob Pemberton. Bob looked over my shoulder and when I turned to see--wonder of wonders-- the young man.
He smiled and said, "May I have this dance."
My stomach lurched but not knowing who he was I hesitated a moment as I got lost in his eyes before returning the smile and consenting. When I touched his shoulder with my left hand and he took my right hand into his, I felt a "Zap" that traveled through me.
I asked, "Which side of the family are you from?"
He said, "Neither. I was in the cafe finishing dinner when I heard the music. I came back here to see what was happening. Do you think it's alright?"
"I don't really know, I suppose it's alright."
He then said, "What will you be doing tonight?"
Wow, that was fast, I thought. "I'm attending this wedding, why?"
"I wondered if you'd like to go somewhere else with me. One of my Frat friends is having a party later."
"I guess you haven't noticed." I took my left hand off his shoulder and displayed my wedding ring.
"Oh, I see," he said with a bit of a flush to his face. "You're married; as usual, my luck!"
I nodded and smiled back saying, "You sound as if this happens to you often."
He said, "No it doesn't but I was hoping."
I looked up at him and said, "I am sorry. That would have been nice. A Frat party; are you attending the University of Toronto?"
"Yes, I am. I just moved here last year and some of my friends are having a party tonight. There are a few of us that haven't gone home for the summer."
"And where is home?" I asked.
"Well, right now, it's Cuba, but I've lived most of my life in Hungary."
"Are your parents living in Cuba?"
"No, I emigrated with their very good friend, my godfather. Since the war ended, we've been traveling; first Paris and then to Cuba where we are temporarily settled."
The music ended and I looked up and as our eyes connected; they held, and I got lost in the meaningful expression I thought I saw. Oh, he was so handsome! Immediately flustered my heart thumped and I didn't want to leave. His arm was still around me with his hand on my back. I reluctantly disengaged from his hold, smiled, and said, "Welcome to Canada and good luck; so sorry about the party."
He said, "Thank you, yes I'm sorry about the party too." He had been holding my hand very tightly before I took it away.
I turned and headed back to our table. Les was leaving the dance floor too, and he turned his head and rested scrutinizing eyes on my departing dance partner.
As I too watched him leave the hall, I had the odd feeling that this wasn't the last of him. I couldn't get him out of my mind for the rest of the evening and right on to the next day and the next and the next. I kept seeing his intense brown eyes looking into mine and I still felt the grasp of his hand holding mine, tightly.
This was very unsettling. I knew I was quite vulnerable at this stage of my life, with all that wasn't happening in my marriage, after almost two years. It was not just that he was so handsome it was also the fact that he sought me out among that crowd and I needed that feeling of being needed or wanted. The lurching of my stomach and the " Zap" right through me was telling me that it wasn't a passing fancy. I didn't even know his name, yet he was all I could think about.
The fact that I met him on this date* did not escape me. It was a warning that did not bode well with me. All this was spelling troubled times ahead. I had to deal with this somehow to calm the troubled waters and defuse the yearning I was experiencing. I analyzed it to death. I came up with a solution or so I thought. I would find out who he was and get in touch with him. I didn't want to lose track of him in other words, I wanted him in my life, but it could only be as a friend. Would he believe me? I would soon find out.
I phoned European Delights and described the young man and the person on the phone immediately replied. "Yes, that is Yegenya."
I asked, "Is that his name?"
He said, "No, it means tall tree, I don't know his name."
"Does he eat there often?"
"Yes, he does."
"May I leave a message?"
He said "Sure."
I then left my name and the phone number of my employers Currier & Smith.
Two days later he called me at work. He said, "Have we met?"
"Yes, at the wedding in European Delights, last Saturday. We danced."
He immediately answered, "And you're married."
To which I answered in a low voice, "Yes, that is me but please don't get the wrong idea. I have been thinking about you and have decided I would like to meet with you to discuss something if you are free for lunch one day this week."
He said, "Definitely."
We arranged to meet at a restaurant on Yonge Street, the next day at noon.
To be continued...
John Foster 'Moose' Les's friend and baseball partner
Ted Leach Les's best friend & June Waring
Don Craig & Mary Kosiak
Ewan Whitman & Shirley Newton
Ken Sharpton & Ann Taylor
Bob Pemberton & Jackie Summers
Bill & Peggy Cook
Joan & George Hudson
Jay & Shirley Jasper
Jack Philips & Carol Crawford
The woman added beside a man, eventually married that man.
|Author Notes||Just a portion of Roseanna Emilia's life. A work. of fiction based on true events.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
I couldn't believe what I was going through and what I was doing or why? I was on my way to meet my dance partner from the recent wedding I attended. This was not a rational act. Maybe it was the fact that someone was interested in me and that someone was drop-dead handsome.
Since Les and I had married, almost two years ago, we had NOT consummated our marriage. Yes, I was technically still a virgin as we hadn't been able to make the last hurdle. Who was at fault? Who knew?
We had discussed the fact that though we both loved each other we may have married too young. We were both dedicated to solving our problem at one time, as we read the book on sex like we were studying for an exam. Yet now it seemed Les had accepted failure, and that hurt me deeply. I am a Roman Catholic, and I believed our vow was sacred: deviating from that Is not where I was heading.
There were some mitigating circumstances. Firstly, Les fainted at work, the week before our marriage. It was determined at the time to be because of stress and also the doctor discovered he had a hernia that needed surgery. This, of course, slowed our love-making down, considerably. The surgery took place a month after our marriage and was successful. There was then a period of healing. Very shortly after, Les had a tonsillectomy. Another time for healing. A little later, he was in the hospital under surveillance because of some mysterious pain in his thigh.
There was definitely something amiss!
Our first home was the worst environment regarding privacy, and even though we were now in an ideal apartment, we had not resolved our problem. One thing after the other had the effect of blatant excuses for the situation in which we found ourselves.
Now here I was thinking about another man but in a different way. What was it? I couldn't get his face out of my mind, and I conjectured that maybe he was the one I was supposed to meet and marry. I mused He is probably a Catholic too. Also, he's European; more compatible. Not so opinionated and bossy. Some really provocative thoughts went through my mind.
I was extremely nervous. I couldn't believe my boldness and wondered what in heavens name he would be thinking of me.
When I saw him walk down Yonge St. toward me, I couldn't believe I was doing this. He looked down at me with a smile and took my hand. " Zap" Oh my God; the electricity! I took my hand away and he opened the door for me. He must have felt that current! We entered the restaurant as he said, "Hello again." His soft brown eyes never leaving mine.
When we were seated across from each other, I started the conversation by being very honest with him. I said, “This is rather odd, but we don’t know each other’s names.”
“Nicholas Tolman,” he said.
I said, “Roseanna Jackson.”
"Roseanna, how beautiful."
“Thank you, everyone calls me Anna. I know phoning the Café and leaving a message for you to call me, was very bold, but to be frank, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. Though heaven help me, I tried very hard, believe me. Somehow, I feel this rapport between us. I have an innate feeling that we have many things in common. I know that we were meant to meet.”
At this point, I recited part of a poem I had recently read that went… “Two shall be born the whole wide world apart And speak in different tongues, yet…etc. There is another factor involved here, the date, July 11th is a very significant date in my life.”
He said, “That is interesting, may I ask what the date means?”
“Actually, Nicholas, I would rather not say at this time, perhaps another time.”
He said, “At your discretion.”
“The only reason I requested we meet is, I would like us to become friends as I really do not want to lose touch with you. "
He arched his eyebrows and said, "Really! You're pulling my leg."
"No," I said, "I'm not, I mean it."
He said, with a broad smile, "I thought this meeting would be about arranging a clandestine affair."
"Oh no!" I flushed with embarrassment even though I wasn't surprised at his conclusion. " I can assure you I am referring to a platonic friendship."
He smiled. He shook his head and stared right into my eyes. My return stare was implacable. He was amused, I could tell. He looked over my head for a moment, nodded his head a few times clamped his lips tightly and returning his gaze to me he then quietly said, "Are you being perfectly honest with yourself?"
This caused a great deal of turmoil in my stomach, but I placidly said "Of course. Why do you ask?"
"I just feel you're not being honest, just as you say you feel that rapport."
I hesitated as I thought my answer through and then I said "Okay, I know what you're saying. I am quite aware of my feelings, I should forget we ever met; I can't do that. So, 'honestly' believe me, I need and want us to be friends and when I say need, I mean that there is a specific reason that I have this friendship with someone unattached to my social environment. Perhaps later I will confide in you as our friendship develops,, but please trust me now when I say this."
"Well, when you put it that way, I am certainly intrigued so I will agree. Sure, why not, but if it resonates with you as well, what I'm feeling, why the subterfuge?"
"It is not subterfuge. I simply cannot and will not break my vow. I admit I am totally attracted to you but I'm trying to use common sense in order to defuse a situation that is extremely dire to me. By getting to know you I am sure I will survive the trauma of a missed opportunity." And, as I felt my body relax, I said, "Thank you for agreeing."
He kind of bent his head down and peered at me and said, "Are you for real?"
"Yes, of course, I am," I stated, emphatically.
I had ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, which I hardly touched.
He seemed to be mulling something over in his mind, and then he began to speak about his travels from Hungary to Cuba. He told me, "My father works for Thos. Cook Travel Agency and he and my mother will be migrating to Cuba. I’m hoping that will be soon. I have a girlfriend in Cuba. Her name is Julie.”
He showed me a picture. She was beautiful... Liz Taylor type features and lovely dark curly hair. I could tell he was crazy about her the way he seemed so excited when he talked about her. That kind of defused my feelings.
He said, “I’m studying Journalism at the University of Toronto and I’m hoping to become a writer. Now it’s your turn, tell me about yourself.”
“I am of Italian descent. My maiden name is Emelia. My husband is of English descent and his name is Les Jackson. We have been married for two years, this August. I work for a Customs Broker, I’m a part-time student and a part time artist. When the Canadian National Exhibition opens in August, I will be drawing portraits.
“I was there last year. What building will you be in?"
“The Coliseum. Can I call you Nick?”
“Yes, everyone does.”
Time was up. Even though I had asked for an extension of my lunch hour, I only had a limited time.
We exchanged phone numbers. I gave him my business number.
After he paid the bill, we left the restaurant. It just seemed so right when he took my hand.
I thanked him and turned south, wondering if he, too, felt the electricity when we touched. I turned just once and watched him walk back up Yonge Street.
I couldn't believe what I had just done. For the first time in my life, I felt selfish. But then I placated myself and thought, "Without rain, there are no rainbows."
To be continued...
|Author Notes||Roseanna Emelia is not in control of her emotions.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
My thoughts are chaotic! I can’t seem to stop the story that is being written in my mind. And, yes, it is all true. It is too negative for me. I am trying to promote positive thoughts and suddenly here is all this negative emotion creating havoc.
What to do? I am still reading the book, “Calm Yourself” and it is truly helping me handle the situation with Les, in that I am able to unravel the unconscious thoughts existing in my mind. I have tried meditating when I am alone in the flat, which is quite often, now. I accept the fact that what is, “is” and reacting negatively won’t solve any problems. That’s how things were with me before meeting Nicholas. Now suddenly this chaos, again.
There is a lot at stake here. And yet I am boldly carrying on with this idea of friendship. Why? I just want to keep contact in a benign way. Can I do that? I am determined to try. Meanwhile, continuing work on my psyche to uncover the unconscious actions and bring everything up front where I can be totally in control.
I am quite aware of what I am doing…I am at least honest with myself in that regard.
The facts are these... I love Les; I am married to Les; we haven’t consummated the marriage; I am not content; I met Nicholas; I am totally attracted to him; I don’t want him out of my life; I have proposed friendship to him; my mother ran away from her family with her husband’s brother and I know deep down this is playing a part, big time, in my heart and, I am at sea!
Now I have to accept that in some “Machiavellian” way I am fooling myself as Nicholas said, "Are you being honest with yourself?"
I am truly at risk here and need to paddle just one stroke at a time and get this all settled. Why this risk? Unhappiness has triggered some inane behavior and the only way to stop it is to be totally conscious of every action and to seriously contemplate any other thoughts BEFORE acting. I am trying to distance myself from this unhappiness and examine the reactions to all this.
Nicholas's face pops into my mind. His probing eyes and half-smile, as he said, "Why the subterfuge?"
My mother's role in this plays out as the model I do not want to copy. Also, my father’s heart has been deeply broken, and I need to protect him from further trauma. He has already been diagnosed with early heart problems, and he actually had a stroke.
Until recently, my life was contained almost like it was in a box (except, of course, the traumatic departure of my mother). All my friends were from school, mostly, and The Balmy Beach Canoe Club. Our social circle is a mix of both our friends: a tightly knit group, almost cliquish.
Now that I am out in the business world, there are more people I am meeting that I feel good around. They are from other parts of the city. I am interested in a few of my business associates, and I find that Les doesn’t want to expand our circle in that way unless it is someone he is interested in. As he would say, "Not at this time,
Anna, we have enough friends.
Our world remains small, and I don’t like it. The exception is Isabel and Gene; we went out with them only a few times. When Isabel came to dinner, Les wasn’t there. Now, of course, they are divorced because of the situation that mirrors ours.
I like different points of view and different backgrounds to learn about and be involved with. I am suddenly questioning and inwardly fighting convention. Of course, I know I am trying to defend my very unconventional approach to Nicholas.
I am experiencing a colossal change in my thinking that ultimately is affecting my feelings.
|Author Notes||Anna is unable to ameliorate the sudden change in her feelings and her thoughts. This struggle manifests itself in much thought.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
Les and I had two weeks vacation starting from July 24th thru to August 7th.
Just in time as far as I was concerned. A vacation hopefully from all the aggravation I was experiencing. Could I really put all that aside for the next two weeks and enjoy myself? Maybe yes and maybe no.
We had planned a trip down the East Coast of the United States, with Peggy and Bill Cook. It was going to be a good opportunity for Les, as a new driver, to share this experience with Bill, now and then during the trip.
On Tuesday before the upcoming trip Les received a phone call from Bill.
“Les, I hate to tell you, but we can’t make the trip with you and Anna. Peggy has the mumps.”
“Oh, no. Poor Peggy. How is she?”
“She’s not too bad, but very disappointed.”
“Ditto. I hope she doesn’t have a miserable time. Just take care.”
“We will. Will you still go?”
“I’m not sure. We’ll have to see.”
They said their goodbyes and Les turned to me and repeated their conversation.
We looked at each other with worrying eyes for a beat and then Les said, “We should still go. I’ll be okay on my own. I suppose I need this kind of experience. We should make our money stretch so that we can afford it, what do you say?”
“I’m looking forward to this trip, Les. It could be for the best that this has happened. We have the next two weeks to relax, enjoy, and sort out some of our problems.”
“Yes, I agree.”
We met with Don and Mary Craig, who had just returned from their honeymoon. The trip was to be literally the same, and Don said, “Les you’ll be able to handle it. Just follow the maps. I’ve marked the highways you should take.”
He gave Les his maps, and a list of the places and the motels they stayed at. This was so helpful.
On the Saturday morning of July 25th, we were off. We traveled through Kingston and, curiosity made us stop at Fort Henry which is a National Historic Site of Canada. It was so interesting and, as we watched the uniformed guards' reenactments of drills and battle tactics, I realized I would probably glean much information during this trip.
The next town we went through was Gananoque and, then we came to the Thousand Island Bridge. We were so impressed with the scenery before us, the many beautiful islands clustered in that area, we decided to stop and take pictures.
The next stop was Canadian and U.S. Customs.
The country through Alexandria Bay, Theresa, and Antwerp was plain and lonely; nothing of note for miles; flat empty land. We decided that Gouveneur would be our destination for the day. We stayed at Davidson’s Log Cabins on Route 58. The cost was $6.00.
Our budget allowed us to spend $15.00 per day. It was very tight.
We went to mass at St. James Church on Sunday morning, July 26th and headed on out to our next destination, Lake Saranac. We stayed at Brown’s Cabins. The cost was $8.00 We were there when Armistice in Korea was announced. We were in a bar that night and the celebration was ongoing.
Monday, July 27th, 1953.
Lake Placid was awesome. Then on to White Face Mountain and The Ausable Chasm, then Lake Champlain where we took the streamlined ferry called Valcour, to Burlington, Vermont. The boat trip was $3.70; stayed at Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. Stayed at Terrace Cabins $6.00.
Tuesday, July 28th
Traveled through the White Mountains and the Green Mountains, then the Adirondacks, through Portland. We turned off Highway #1 to Highway#9 to Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
It was on this part of our trip that Les addressed our problem. He said, “Anna, let’s talk about what we are dealing with that hasn’t happened. I know that where we are right now is mostly because of all the surprises that have happened regarding my health. Yet how about you? You seem to be distancing yourself from me with all your new interests; the correspondence course and the two nights of classes. How does that help?”
“My interest in education is mostly to keep me busy on the many lonely nights I’ve come to know. That’s not distancing myself from you, that’s making sure I don’t begrudge you your overtime and meetings.” I said. “Why do you say that? Also, there is a lot for me to learn and I’m enjoying it.”
“Maybe I’m wrong, but when you’re not home because you’re at school, those are lonely nights for me.”
“But that rarely happens.”
“Okay, I think this isn’t quite the conversation we should be having. Let’s talk about sex.
We hardly go near each other, in bed.”
Whose fault is that I thought, but then said, “Do you expect me to make the first move?”
“Is that what it’s come down to. Who makes the first move? Hey, I love you and you love me. What’s happening? We can’t go on this way.”
"So while I'm there beside you, aching for you to reach out to me, you are saying that you've been doing the same thing. Why? Why aren't you taking me in your arms and making love? It's been a nightmare. I can't believe you are saying this. It has to end!"
“That’s for sure. Yes, you're right. I am longing for you in the same way. I know this trip isn’t going to do it because of all the driving and the exhaustion. Anna, when we get home, we’ll fix things, I promise.”
"But we can still snuggle up and hug each other, right?
That conversation satisfied me to the extent that it confirmed his love for me. The rest of the trip was very relaxed as we did a lot of talking and catching up on each other’s feelings.
The East Coast of the United States is literally bursting with much tasty food and we did our share of sampling food we had never had before.
At Old Orchard Beach we ate our first lobster and, also tasted our first commercial pizza. The hotel cost was $2.50 each. I had my first glimpse of an ocean. We loved the pizza so much we bought one for breakfast. I ended up with blisters from the hot cheese and tomato.
Wednesday, July 29th
Traveled through Kennebunk, Wells, York, and Kittery and here entered New Hampshire into Portsmouth and thru Hampton Beach to Hampden Falls, N.H.
Evergreen Lodge $8.00 (Cabin for 3).
Friday, July 30th
A very restless night... Evergreen Lodge was buggy. I found a wolf spider in the glass in the bathroom. I said, “Sorry Les, I can’t sleep in here. I’m going to sleep in the car.”
He tried to talk me out of it, but eventually gave in and we both slept in the car.
The next morning, we took off through Newbury Port, Ipswich, and Salem; headed for Boston. We went to Fenway Park to see Boston Red Sox play against Chicago White Sox. Chisox 17-1…Ballgame $3.60 Parking $1.00 Misc. at ballgame $1.00. It was a great game.
Worked our way through the Rush Hour out of Boston back onto the highway through Quincy, Weymouth and stopped at Plymouth at a lovely Bed and Breakfast place called The Blue Spruce. It was a stately home with cabins. We stayed in a room in the house. $7.00
We tried our first lobster roll at a highway eatery.
The next day we headed for Hyannis, Cape Cod… no accommodations. Then to Craigsville… no accommodation. We returned to The Blue Spruce and rented a cabin. Went to the White Horse Beach where we sunned and Les swam.
Saturday, August 1st
Up at 7:15 a.m. We went through Plymouth again and saw Plymouth Rock, then traveled through Rockland and Cambridge, and on through New Hampshire then on into Vermont back to Montpelier where we shopped and stayed the night.
Saturday, August 2nd
We were up at 8 a.m. and were headed for Montreal, Canada. Stayed in Montreal a few days then back to Toronto.
All in all, it proved to be a wonderful trip…The states we went through were steeped in history and Les was knowledgeable about all of it.
At one point I said, "You sure know your history. You have given me so much information about this country that I wasn't aware of."
"History was my favorite subject at school. I still follow it."
"Not only do I love you, but you are a great traveling companion."
"How nice, ditto."
He was truly informative and certainly made me realize how little I really knew about many places as well as many other things. The trip confirmed to me the need for my return to study when Autumn arrived.
The places we had visited were very scenic and, chiseled in my mind the beauty of Lake Saranac, the mirror-like Lake Placid, and the touristy atmosphere, the crispness of the breezes here and there, the churning trail of water seen from the Valcour as we crossed Lake Champlain and the many white-steepled pleasant towns we had driven to and through.
I thought at the beginning of the trip that we would have much time for lovemaking and certainly finalize our marriage. It didn’t happen as we found that we had to rise very early in order to reach our destination for the day early in the afternoon, the reason being after a certain time most motels were booked. We then found the sightseeing and beach activities took the rest of the day until dinner. We did indulge in cuddling together and petting, but not too many times. We had a very tight schedule and Les driving so many hours a day was exhausted.
On the plus side, we had a lot of discussions. We aired our grievances, on both sides.
I told him, "There are some things that have to change. Why am I picking up the cleaning and the groceries, when you have the car. Walking up that hill with parcels is no fun."
"You are right, sorry. We'll definitely change that."
There were other things that we needed to compromise on, such as Les taking more responsibility around our flat and me trying to leave work earlier, if possible when I wasn’t going to classes. Yes, we did discuss our problem and again promised each other that we would focus on seriously legitimizing our marriage and becoming more than roommates. Those discussions helped us to work our way back to being a loving couple.
I did find myself thinking about Nicholas a few times since I was just an idle passenger taking in the scenery and helping with the maps. Also, I did much thinking about literally everything during that trip.
I was relieved with how easily we fell back into our wonderfully compatible conversations and the caring atmosphere we developed. I felt a rejuvenation of my love for Les and his for me as I looked forward to the days ahead. I also felt a serious resolve to make things right.
."Anna regains her equilibrium on this trip as she has much time to assess their interactions and finds them not too wanting.
Fiction based on a true story.
By Raffaelina Lowcock
This trip certainly brought a lot into perspective for me. There was no doubt about it, the trip was fun, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely, despite our meager funds.
I had always thought Les special, from the first time we met, when Jim Patterson introduced me to Les Jackson and John Foster down at the beach. I had the same feeling about him then as I now have for Nicholas.
I couldn’t get Les out of my mind back then because he was larger than life. As I have said before watching him play ball was like being at a concert. He had such smooth moves, and he was so cheerful and entertaining. Whenever we met, he made me feel like I was the only person he was interested in. I remembered the odd time I’d see him and be surprised by the thrilling feeling that came over me. It was good to have that carefree Les back again and I reveled in it.
Of course, I had Nicholas on my mind because truthfully his face was never gone. Yet, the dichotomy of the situation was very strange because of how much I loved Les. I had been so preoccupied with thinking about Nicholas during the last little while, before our trip, that my own problems with Les had taken a backseat even though deep down they were the underlying cause of my distraction.
I was comparing my meeting with Nicholas to the time way back when I first met Les while I was going steady with Jim. Then too, Les started out as a friend.
However, this was different in so many ways. This was moral and not a trivial problem. I had vowed a lifelong responsibility to Les. Yet before we took this trip Les had seemingly become indifferent to our situation. It was like we were roommates.
I remembered when thinking back that Les was not slow in making passes once we started going steady. He was far bolder than Jim ever was, and this worried me. This was the conundrum. When we were single he was all over me and, actually voiced that we should go further. He said, “We should test the waters to make sure we’re compatible.”
I put a very quick stop to that thought. I said, “I’m sorry, Les, I do not agree. If that’s your intention we can’t continue seeing each other.”
He acquiesced but was by no means chaste. Heavy petting prevailed. Now I wondered if that was the cause of the problem?
We had promised each other during our talks on the trip, that we would fix everything that was wrong in our marriage.
We planned that our two days in Montreal would be different than the rest of the trip. Because we had planned our trip around the Rhythm Method or the Calendar Method, whatever we call it, the days in Montreal would be safe sex days. Because of Les’s concern re financial stability before children, this was important. We decided to just take the two days to relax and indulge ourselves, instead of touring.
Les said, “I’ve made a reservation at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, in Montreal, for our two day stay.”
“That will be great.”
We arrived and registered at about 3:30 P.M. and settled into our room.
Les suggested, “Let’s not wander, let’s just order room service.”
After dinner, we showered and changed into PJ’s and nightgown. We watched TV from our bed. Les had his arm around me and I had my head against his shoulder, but not for long. We began kissing passionately. Les gently took the spaghetti straps of my nightgown and slid them off my shoulders as I became totally aroused. We were skin to skin and my hopes soared as I was confident that we would finally have intercourse. He was gently kissing me from my neck on down which suffused me with passion.
We were so hungry for love our hands were everywhere. As he moved to between my thighs, at the moment before entry, I knew that we wouldn’t make it as I felt the wetness on my leg.
He collapsed on me as it happened. We lay there, speechless, and chagrined. What to say?
“Les, it was bound to happen. It has been so long since the last time we tried. Don’t feel bad, we won’t give up.”
Dejectedly he got up and went into the bathroom coming back with washcloths and a towel.
He just looked at me with such sad eyes and said, “I am so sorry.”
When we returned to Toronto, we settled into our usual routine. I found the days flitting by, once again. We did seriously attempt intercourse a few more times. We ended up quite frustrated at our failure to complete the act. I thought long and hard about it and was truly bothered.
Then there was an incident at a Saturday night party. Peggy was ill and Les offered to take her home. Indeed! Why in the world would he do that? I withdrew from the scene immediately, by going into the washroom. I sat on the edge of the bathtub, trying to control my rage. I was so humiliated.
He didn’t take her home, of course, her husband was there, and he took her home.
But just the mere suggestion?
Peggy was my friend, and I knew I had to talk to her. I did just that. She admitted that Les once made a pass at her and she discouraged him.
I didn’t need a degree to figure that out. He may as well have advertised that he was looking for a teacher. Peggy had been married for quite a while and I could see, clear as day, his motive. But, what in the world was he thinking?
This was so discouraging. Talk about disappointed! It took a while for me to get over that incident and of course, I didn’t confront Les about it. That was a huge mistake, I later realized.
The incident was somewhat of a catalyst. I discreetly called Nicholas and he tentatively asked, “Would you like to visit with me?”
I said, “I don’t really think I should do that. Why not meet somewhere?”
He said, “Why not here?”
I felt a bit abashed at my reluctance as if I mistrusted him. So, I said, “Okay, where do you live?”
He gave me his address, which was on Huron Street. I felt that this would be somewhat of a test and hopefully, my trust in him was well placed.
I dressed very carefully in a new grey dirndl skirt with appliquéd silver pinecones, and white peasant blouse, purchased in Montpelier, Vermont. With my recent tan, I knew I looked fine. I was overwhelmed with anxiety.
When he saw me, he said, “Wow, you look great.”
I was more than pleased as I said, “Thank you.”
On seeing him again, I was completely stricken, once again, by his good looks.
Because I was anxious and nervous, visiting him in his room, I only stayed for not quite an hour.
During that time, he was a perfect gentleman. He said, “I’m reading a fantastic poem by T.S. Eliot. Do you know his writings? This one is ‘The Wasteland.’”
“He is probably one of the best poets of this century.” And, at that he engaged in an interesting talk about his poetry.
This prompted me later to go to the library and look this poet up. I ended up loving his poetry.
We discussed my trip as I informed him of the most interesting places that we visited, like the Ausable Chasm, and the gorge’s awesome beauty, the baseball game in Boston, Old Orchard Beach, and Lake Placid. The easiness of our conversation and the friendly feeling eased my anxiety at being alone with him in his room.
He said that he was moving to an apartment and that he would call me with his new address and phone number.
To be continued...
This is a crucial time for Anna and Les. Their love can't survive too many failures.
This is fiction based on a true story.
By Raffaelina Lowcock
In August I did my stint at the Canadian National Exhibition as a Portrait Artist.
Surprisingly, Nicholas showed up and wanted his portrait done. I said I would prefer not to do friends. He asked me if I wanted to have lunch with him at the Food Building and I accepted. This was the beginning of our friendly meetings.
In September, I resumed my Correspondence Course, studying Medieval History and English Composition. I enrolled at Jarvis Collegiate in a night course of
Les said, “I’m okay with you going to school, and the Correspondence Course, but frankly I think it’s unnecessary.”
Unfortunately, a lot of my friends thought it unnecessary as well. They had graduated from high school, so they didn’t know how it felt knowing how much I didn’t know.
Les's mother said, “It’s childish!”
I needed to do it because I felt inadequate in my knowledge of many things and this helped me feel more confident, that I was headed in the right direction. I ignored everyone. I knew what I needed to do.
Before my English Literature class, I attended a Novena at St. Patrick’s Church every Wednesday at 5 p.m. A Novena is a commitment of nine weeks, praying for something specific. I was praying for a normal marriage.
The friends that had married after Les and me, were already pregnant or had given birth. I grew so tired of the usual question from friends or my family. “Still not pregnant?”
Nothing in that department had changed. And now I had a distinct feeling that Les was indifferent.
On some occasions, I met Nicholas for a coffee or a coke, in a local restaurant, before going to my class.
He was such an interesting person, and we had some meaningful conversations. He was sharing some of what he was learning along the lines of literature and psychiatry with me. We both liked jazz and discussed some of the music and musicians. We both loved poetry and talked about T.S. Eliot and e.e. cummings poems, at length. As I had told him at our first meeting, I felt so at ease with him. I felt that rapport.
Little by little, we were getting acquainted and these meetings were how we developed our friendship. He kept me apprised of his girlfriend Noonie, as well as the different girls he was meeting at the various Frat parties.
He would excitedly say, She’s just so interesting or lovely, about some girl he’d just met, and then I wouldn’t hear any more about her.
He was a true Casanova. I soon realized I was fortunate to have been married when I met him because I could see the earmarks of a broken heart! As it happened, I had tamped down any emotional feeling for him as our friendship grew because I could see that anything along the lines of desire was hopeless, and my aim was friendship.
I belonged to the New Jazz Society, and so did he. I had seen him at a few concerts, from afar, as well.
When the New Jazz Society had an “Open House” one Saturday I asked Les if he’d like to go. He said, "Yes." I thought it would be good if I could introduce Nicholas to Les and he could share in the friendship!
It never happened! The venue was on Jarvis Street and Les immediately didn’t like that. Jarvis Street is the Red-Light District in Toronto. When we got there early, he was quite hesitant to enter and decided, "No, Anna we're not going." So that was that.
In the first week of September Nicholas called me at the office.
That weekend Les and some fellow workers were asked to go to his Uncle Ernie’s cottage to help take the dock in and close it for the winter.
When Nicholas said, “How about visiting my new apartment?”
I said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to come there.”
“Why? My roommate will be here. You will be safe, he laughed.”
“Okay, under those circumstances, it should be fine.”
We arranged a time for that weekend.
His roommate, George, was pleasant and after the introduction, he left. Now we were alone. This was a little disconcerting. I looked around the apartment. It was a typical student's lair. Books piled on a desk, a chair, a table. A few sweaters draped on the sofa, and backs of chairs. It looked comfortable.
Nicholas put a forty-five record of Sarah Vaughan on the record player. The song was Sarah Vaughan's emotionally charged, “Prelude to a Kiss." He asked me to dance; before I knew it, he was kissing me. Oh, I just melted into his arms. I wanted it to last, but I reluctantly pushed him away and said, “Please Nicholas, no.”
He kept holding me and said, “It’s very hard to be platonic, you know that.”
“It’s been working so far.”
He looked down at me and grinned and shook his head from side to side. “Yes, but what about the silence.”
I said, “I don’t know what you mean.”
He said “We talk, but what about what you’re not saying? For all I know, you are a nun. Obviously, you’re not happy or you wouldn’t need a friend like me. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? Please tell me; who am I going to tell?”
I was taken by surprise and so I didn’t reply immediately. I thought about our initial meeting when I had said I needed him to trust me. He had, so far. I now felt that I could trust him.
Very haltingly I told him the truth; the whole truth about all the stops and starts, the honeymoon, the hernia, the tonsils, and all the other things that had affected our marriage. I said, “Nicholas, I’m in limbo.”
He looked at me in disbelief and said “How could he let this happen? This is unbelievable. Is he normal?”
“Yes, he is normal, no doubt about that. It just seems that everything that happened after our marriage, was making our love life difficult. All the various things and our inexperience.”
He took my hand with his left hand and sat beside me and put his right arm around me and hugged me to him.
He said, “I’m speechless. You really must be a nun to put up with this. You say you’re sure he’s okay? He’s not, you know__."
I was all choked up, but I didn’t want to cry so I pulled it together. I said, “Yes, I am sure he’s okay.”
I looked at him and said “It’s been helpful knowing you and having a diversion. I am so thankful to have someone like you that I can trust. I can trust you, right?”
He answered “Absolutely!”
“Do you think these things happen accidentally? Maybe I have a guardian angel nudging me here and there.”
He said “It was strange, the way we met. Maybe I’m supposed to help you.”
“I could provide the experience,” he said
“Oh no, you don’t! I’m married to Les, and he’ll be the first, and only, no doubt about that.”
“You can’t blame me for trying.”
He got up and turned the record over and then Sarah Vaughan’s voice boomed,
“I don’t know why but I’m feeling so sad, I long to try something I’ve never had.”
Now, I thought, I’d better go.
I asked where the washroom was and went in and threw water on my face, I was so warm. When I returned, I said, “I think I’d better get going, it’s a long way home.”
He said, “I was hoping you could stay longer.”
“Nicholas, I’m not a nun and I’m definitely not a saint. I’m sorry to leave, believe me I must.”
I knew I wouldn’t last much longer, especially now that he knew. Was it a mistake to tell him; I really couldn’t say, but it felt right.
He took my hands in his and his beautiful eyes scanned my face. He then said “I’ve got a lot to think about. I hope you’re successful soon. Now I’m going to be thinking about you a lot more.”
I said “Nice. Bye” and stood on my toes and pulled him down a bit so I could kiss him on the cheek. “Thanks for understanding.”
In the taxi, on my way home I mused, Thank God he is a true gentleman.
To be continued…
|Author Notes||Anna warily realizes how deep her attachment to Nicholas, is becoming and attempts to diffuse it.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
The weeks turned into months as Les and I continued in the same way, going out with our friends, mostly on the weekends. Sunday dinners with either his family or mine. We went to the movies at least once a week.
Every first of the month we had dinner out and went downtown to see a just-released movie. On Friday and Saturday nights we were either having someone over or going to someone else’s place. And sadly, nothing changed.
There were three couples we were close to. Ann & Ken Sharpton, June & Ted Leach, and Bill and Peggy Cook. But more than likely on a Saturday there would be the rest of our friends and it would be somewhat of a party
We often went to some specific dance which could have been The Brant Inn or some such place. In fact, there were two groups of friends; June & Ted Leach and their associates was one group; Ann & Ken Sharpton, Bill and Peg, and the rest were another group. So, our social life was never dull.
However, I was beginning to feel like it was meaningless. I was starting to read psychiatrists like Erich Fromm (recommended by Nicholas) and was doing some deep thinking. When I was at these parties or dances and had had a few drinks, I would think of Nicholas and want him to be there. I was totally uninhibited at those times and the facts lay bare. Although I had resisted him making love to me, the thing I longed for most, was for him to make love to me. I now knew I was falling in love with him.
Because of this, I would let long periods of time go by without contacting him. My feelings frightened me. When I finally phoned once, George, his former roommate answered. He said, “Nicholas has moved.”
“Do you have a new phone number?”
"No, I’m sorry. I don’t.”
“Okay, thanks, George.”
Well, that was a pickle. I would have to wait until he called me, which could be never because I asked him not to call.
It happened that Les went away again with his friends on their annual May 24th fishing trip and I was alone. I didn’t mind because I had a lot of homework and correspondence courses to catch up on.
When Saturday night came, I had a strong desire to get in touch with Nicholas. I had recently read about mental telepathy and I thought I would try it. I closed my eyes and blanked my mind out; picturing his face I thought “Nicholas, phone me.” I did this several times and was startled when the phone rang, and it was him! I was so astounded I could hardly speak.
He asked, “Is this a bad time to call?”
“No, it’s fine. My husband is away this weekend, fishing.”
“I haven’t heard from you for a while. Is everything okay or is it still the same? Can we meet?”
“Well, I didn’t know you’d moved, and your friend didn’t have your phone number. Yes, we can meet, where?”
“Sorry about that Anna. How about we meet at the Star Grill, at 8 o’clock.”
We met in that restaurant and when I saw him, I marveled, as always at his stunning good looks. The fact that he was even the least bit interested in me was mind-boggling.
He said, “It’s good to see you again.”
His eyes had a look in them I had not seen before. There was a depth of something I couldn’t define.
He touched my face with his index finger and then lifted my face with his finger beneath my chin so that I was looking up at him. He smiled and said, “Hi.”
My stomach flipped.
We had a coke and caught up on recent events in both our lives.
When we left, I asked, “Are we going somewhere?”
He said, “Just visiting.”
Just visiting turned out to be what I would class as a small gathering. I was on guard, as he introduced me. I really didn’t want to be there with these people who would then know me and recognize me if they saw me again somewhere in Toronto.
One of the students was of Italian descent and his last name was familiar to me. I knew the family. Fortunately, they would not know my married name, which was what was given.
I made small talk and was able to dodge a few questions by looking off into the room and pretending to be looking for Nicholas. I was offered a drink, which I accepted, and the night slowly passed. I had, of course, removed my rings from my left hand.
Later I had another drink and nursed it slowly, knowing that drink wiped away my inhibitions and not knowing what I would be doing later. When it was about 11 o’clock, we left. Nicholas asked, “Do you want to see my new place?”
I hesitated and wondered out loud if that was such a good idea.
I knew I shouldn’t but said, “Okay.”
He was now living in a one-room walk-up. A small room. Sitting, was on the single bed, only.
I sat on the bed and he sat beside me. He took my face in his hands and bent down and kissed me. I returned his kiss. He held me close with one hand and began caressing me with the other and I was hopelessly submissive. My subconscious was egging me on, but my mind was saying no, no don’t do this. He began undressing me. If it continued I knew how it would end, it seemed so conclusive with him. I was of two minds, wanting him and knowing I couldn’t do this.
I gently pushed him away saying, “I’m sorry Nicholas.” I felt tears streaming down my face and tried covering them with my hands.
He grabbed my hands in his and pulled me against his chest and moved one hand to the back of my head, soothing me.
I mumbled, “I should never have let us get this far.”
He didn’t say anything, just looked at me, his mouth closed tightly in a grim line and one hand holding mine tightly. He then said “Man! This is impossible! I’m beginning to think about you a lot. I don’t know if I can handle this.”
He seemed genuinely upset! I didn’t blame him one bit.
I said, “Nicholas, please forgive me. This should never have happened. I shouldn't have met you tonight. I am so sorry. You’ve been so good for me, someone to turn to and I’m afraid I’ve taken advantage of your patience. I can’t do this any longer either. I’m afraid I’ve been wrong. It’s best if I just don’t see you again. This wasn’t such a good idea.”
We were standing now and he put his arms around me. I gazed into his smoldering eyes as he said “No, don’t say that! You need me now. I’m the one that should say I’m sorry. But I can’t stop thinking about you and you do attract me. I promise we’ll do the platonic thing again. I think I know what’s wrong with your husband.”
I said, “Oh, what?”
He just closed his eyes and shook his head.
I said, “I should go, can I call a cab?”
After I put myself back together we went downstairs to the phone in the hall and I called a cab. I memorized his phone number and waited.
We went outside together. When the cab came, he hugged me and said, “We’ll talk.”
I said, “Not for a while, and it should be by phone.”
On the way home, in the cab, my mind was reeling. This is stupid and so not fair to him. I’m not doing him any favours by seeing him. I will try not to get in touch.
Further, I was amazed once more that he was such a gentleman. If it had been someone else, I might not have been given a choice. In my mind, as a human being, he went up several notches. Inwardly I admonished myself and vowed not to let things like that happen again. Best, stay away. I thought, despite what he said.
The next day when I opened my eyes, the first thing I thought of was the night before and how it ended. I was overwhelmed with sadness and the tears flowed freely. I was so depressed about my situation. I couldn’t stop thinking about how bad it was getting. I cried because I couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing Nicholas again.
I admitted for the first time that I loved him and that my love for Les was waning from neglect. I knew I shouldn’t give in to these commiserations, but I was so sad, so sad. Where would this all end? How would we resolve our problem? I knew I couldn’t give up on Les, although I felt I might have to. And, here I was creating another problem. I went to mass at St. John’s and prayed my heart out.
Later I decided to go out for a walk and when I got outside, a warm breeze wafted over my face and I gloried at the beautiful sunny day as I headed south toward the Lake.
By the time I reached the boardwalk, I was exhilarated by the air around me. The slapping waves of Lake Ontario as well as the scenery of people with their dogs and children enjoying their Sunday. I thought “Just be glad to be alive, on a day like this.” I felt much better and was determined to confront Les sooner rather than later.
|Author Notes||Anna faces the truth of her situation. She sees the writing on the wall and is reluctant to read it. Her attempt at keeping her connection with Nicholas, as a friend, doesn't seem to be working, as her feelings for him deepen.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
I thought that if I stopped seeing Nicholas, I would become more intimate with Les, but he wasn’t playing his part and I was damned if I was going to beg him to make love to me.
I loved Les and responded to his touch, instantly, yearning for an end to our dilemma. I would sometimes stare at him without his awareness and note how extremely handsome he was.
I loved to look at his eyelashes. From the side they were thick and curled. Who could miss those beautiful blue eyes? He had a profile like John Barrymore, with that bump on his forehead, over his eyes, and a nice straight nose. His skin was soft. He was 6’1” and very well put together.
Yet, on the other hand, in my dreams and during the days at work, I longed to see Nicholas. What a conundrum. How would it end? Would I give up and split with Les? I knew I would never be the initiator of that. There was no future with Nicholas, of that I was quite sure having witnessed his interest and then disinterest in the females he met at the Frat parties and his adoration of Noonie. That kept my resolve firm.
Now I had a new problem, I thought. A few times when I came home from school, I found Les asleep. He never waited up for me, but these few times I knew he had been drinking.
I confronted him.
"Les, why aren't you waiting up for me? And should you be drinking alone? Why?"
"I have to have a good night's sleep and surely one or two drinks won't lead me astray. Besides, why wait up for you? Nothing to wait for."
I felt the barb so deeply, I couldn't answer.
Then there was the Suez Canal Crisis, a prominent news story every day and it gave vibes of another war. That could mean the army for Les, what then!
I posed the question, "Do you think there will be a war?"
"Don't be silly."
End of discussion.
At the next Novena I spoke to a priest, in the Confessional about my situation, and what he said, seared me. He said, “You are the one that will solve this problem. Your connection to this other man even if innocent, is not helping. It should be severed. You have to decide to do the right thing.”
And so, I realized it really was up to me and how I handled things from that day forward.
The truth hit me hard. It wasn’t something I was willing to accept. I was
The resulting thoughts were long and many and led me to render my feelings in poetry and this one made me deeply aware of my feelings…
The Maiden’s Veil
She sees the veil but cannot stop its hover
Nor as it drops to stop what it will cover
Then day by day she tenderly pretends
So many things and one that never ends
So deep the buried turmoil goes
It doesn’t stop, it grows and grows
And so, deceit becomes the normal cause
Forgetting truth, forgetting what that was
Believe what e’er you may
But from the very start
No one knows to this day
The sorrow kept within a maiden’s heart
I knew what was happening and yet I was reluctant to stop it.
I had developed a new philosophy since I had read “Calm Yourself.” All things were possible and truly the mind was master. I concentrated on the facets of “Mind Over Matter.” I found it worked well for me.
I buried myself in my work. I was good at it and the Curriers and Smiths certainly made me aware of that. They gave me special projects to work on because of their trust in me and I knocked myself out to accommodate them.
As well, I started to bring roses into work and put them on the bosses’ desks, quite on my own initiative. They responded positively and asked me to continue, but to let them finance the flowers. I was pleased to do just that.
I knew the dedication I gave to my job and to my studies was my way of escaping from the troubled life I was leading.
I had been to a few Socials that were sponsored by the Advertising Club that Les belonged to. I was made aware of his status. He was their young up and coming star. I was stunned by the positive reports. So, he too was throwing himself into his job. If only we could redirect our dedication to each other.
During this time, I too, kept myself extremely busy with work. I was determined to take the right steps. One of them was to speak to my sister Mary, at last.
And then I got pneumonia! I had tried the mind over matter bit to get over a cold and it ended up being a bad case of pneumonia. I was laid up for a good month and it took another month to get back to normal. I lost weight.
Les was very attentive to my every need and made sure I had whatever was needed.
While being laid up meant no work it also meant (once I was out of danger) long hours of thinking and thinking and thinking. I had so many dreams of Nicholas it began to bother me. I lay awake for hours some nights, thinking and wondering how this would end. And end it must.
I was married to Les, yet still, technically a virgin, and Nicholas was the shoulder I leaned on that helped me through this. He was a true friend. Almost five years had gone by since I had married Les and circumstances had not allowed for an easy consummation.
So, for quite a while I felt that our love was cooling, and it was becoming harder to address the situation in our marriage as time passed. With my feelings for Nicholas, it became even harder.
Also, I wondered and felt that perhaps something new was happening with my husband that I really couldn’t put my finger on. So, with doubt and suspicion raising their ugly heads, love was hard to hold onto.
Another poem I had written, I mailed to Nicholas.
Because his favourite instrument was drums, I titled it ‘Ode to a Distant Drummer’. Also, the words resonated the jazz jargon of the fifties.
Ode to A Distant Drummer
Over a thousand rooftops
My eyes searched for you last night
From the window of my bedroom
Beneath the moon’s soft light
They traveled up dark streets
And down a thousand little alleys.
They rested on the lights downtown, in vain.
I knew deep down
I would not see you, realistically
But it set my mind conjuring
Pictures up for me
Oh, believe me you were vivid
Within my racing mind…
From the highest steeple
You tapped a real cool beat.
Cried “Crazy” to the people
Along the lighted street
Drumsticks lightly in your hands
You beat Brazilian coolness,
Jazzed the eaves troughs upside down
With your usual Tomfoolness
Then you brushed a Stardust Brubeck
Into the coolest breeze
And bopped it with a loud bee bop
Swinging through the trees
A thousand Gerry Mulligans
Lullubied the leaves
While mallaroony robins
Served groove juice to the birds.
The cats were crying
Meow-blee bop, blee bop from far below,
And suddenly as it appeared
I watched your figure go.
On the telephone, he laughed about it and thanked me. He filled me in on his essays and thanked me for sending him the typewriter I had rented for him.
I talked about the last movie I had seen “From Here to Eternity.”
He brought the subject back to us as he said, “I’ve become used to talking with you and I miss your visits.”
What could I say? “I know Nicholas, I feel that too, but if we continue, it has to be just friends. Okay? You know it is getting more difficult as time goes by and I am truly befuddled and of course quite unhappy.
“Yes, I can see that.”
"Nicholas, you didn't know it, but I have just recovered from pneumonia, I was laid up for two months."
"And you didn't think to tell me? That's not good. Why wouldn't you let me know?"
"I didn't think I should, anyway I was just going to tell you that I dreamt about you, a lot and in each dream, you were wearing the houndstooth jacket you wore the night I met you."
"And what did you dream about?"
"That's my secret."
"Okay, I give up. Will I see you soon?"
"No Nicholas, I'm trying very hard to achieve some semblance of normalcy in this marriage."
We then ended the conversation.
I couldn’t tell him how I was praying at the Novenas every week for strength to fight the temptation of wanting him and for my marriage to be successful. I knew he wanted me too. So why would I risk submission and put myself into such a risky situation? Why would I make it so hard for me?
Again, I didn’t know. I just felt things would work out soon. I was staying away from Nicholas to reach that end. and praying that Les and I would work it out.
Yet, I wasn’t sure about Les. He certainly wasn’t on the same page as me. It was indeed a true façade. I felt like I was drowning in indecision.
|Author Notes||Anna realizes it is up to her to end this farce and is determined to keep her distance from Nicholas hoping things will become more normal.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
Eventually, there were some impromptu meetings between Nicholas and me after the last one, even though I said,
"Just by telephone."
These were not at his place. He would sometimes call me at my office; quite out of the blue and mention a book I might like. Sometimes we would just find time to meet for a drink after many weeks.
One such time was at the Park Plaza where Peter Appleyard was playing the xylophone. We didn’t talk too much, just listened. When we talked it was about the Suez Canal crisis.
Nicholas said, “Not many girls I know are interested in current events. It’s good to know you're up on politics.”
Another time was when he came down to Wellington and Bay and we met in a bar and had a drink and caught up on our activities during the past month or two. It was after I had been on vacation and I was quite tanned and wore a pink dress that contrasted nicely.
Nicholas commented, “You look lovely.”
Of course, I was thrilled.
He said, “Where did you go on your vacation?”
“We drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It was beautiful.”
And so, I did.
He always looked so handsome and I wondered at my coolness with him and how our friendship had grown from utter strangers in such different venues, to this comfortable feeling. It had turned out much the way I had planned. No trysts, just friendly meetings, and a kind of bonding that I liked.
Quite by chance, I was at the Silver Rail to see Max Roach, with one of my girlfriends, and I spotted him at one of the tables…we nodded hellos.
There was a thread that never broke. You would think that after his failure to be physically intimate with me and all the fondness between us that the lack of growth to another stage would cause tension and uneasiness, but it never happened that way.
He was totally understanding of my situation and in tacit agreement with my commitment to see my marriage through and so showed a caring concern for me that was so much appreciated.
I, on the other hand, knew he was alone here in this city and aside from his studies, he must be lonely for family and friends, and of course, Noonie. Understanding that made me non-judgemental and thankful for the attachment we had developed.
We had long conversations about literature and certain authors and poets during some of our meetings. Erich Fromm’s “Man for Himself”, was also discussed. We were sometimes reading, simultaneously, the same books. Also, there were many jazz artists we both enjoyed.
All in all, it remained a good friendship and I felt fortunate that we had maintained the bond without further complications.
I was assessing my situation much later and realized that something had changed. Me. I had totally changed mentally. I was much different than I had been a year ago. I was reading a lot more psychology and psychiatry and applying some of the tenets to my behavior which was leaning more toward an unconventional lifestyle.
Because of the success in my job, I was planning on taking the exam that Custom Brokers take before they can open their own business. I was attending night school and had passed my exams. I became quite aware of the fact that subjects like algebra, though they may seem unnecessary to some, really had the lesson of logic embedded.
My correspondence courses were well attended to because now Les had become busy with his job since Ernie was beginning to give him more responsibilities. He and Muriel were beginning to travel and so he had given Les more supervisory jobs at Key. It did appear that Ernie was grooming Les for more managerial duties.
Les said, “I’m confused about Ernie’s intentions because having me do managerial tasks without giving me the actual authority, is confusing the employees.”
“Why don’t you sort it out with him? I’m sure he’d want to know how things are going.”
“You're right. I will because there is a lot more overtime on special projects for companies like Procter & Gamble that I’ve been asked to supervise.”
Les was also on the committee of The Advertising Club and had increased duties.
I was still working at the CNE for two weeks at the end of August but now only in the evenings because of my day job. I was now quite proficient and enjoying it more as I became quite good at the art of the profile.
Our friends were the same, but what I did not like was that my friends, Shirley and Isobel or Jackie, were not considered part of our social life. If Shirley and her boyfriend invited us to go out, there was always a no from Les.
When Isobel came to visit, Les always had something else to do. Jackie and Bob as a foursome, no.
Les wasn’t interested in anything that I initiated. This was frustrating because it meant I was forever making excuses. It happened even with my family. Anything social was whatever he initiated, with his friends only or his family.
One exception was when Shirley invited us to her cottage one weekend. We had a good time making the rounds of some of the Saturday night specials, but what stood out in my mind was our visit to Fern Cottage a resort just outside of Orillia.
When we got to the dance being held at Fern’s, we sat at a table with a group of young men and women who were holidaying at the resort and were in our age range. To my surprise, Les said, “Anna, take off your rings and we’ll pretend we are single.”
Well, we had had discussions where we had agreed that part of our problem was that we married too young, but I didn’t think to ever carry it to this extreme.
However, when he saw the look on my face, he said “Never mind.”
And I thought, “Of all things to ask me. Why that?”
I wasn’t stupid, or was I?
At this point, I was wondering why I was being so puritanical with Nicholas when my husband really seemed to care less about my feelings. I often sifted through these thoughts now because it was beginning to look like things would never be right.
Instead of contacting Nicholas more, now that this was evident, I made sure our contacts were much less. I was determined to ride this out to a successful conclusion. I kept my own counsel.
I confided in my sister Mary who was not only a sister but the most trustworthy person I could ever talk to about something so personal.
I said, “Mary, I have to tell you something very personal and I need you to keep it a secret between us. Can you make that promise?"
She said, “Of course, tell me.”
“Although I’ve been married a little longer than four years, Les and I have never had intercourse.”
Her eyes widened as her eyebrows went up and she said, “What in the world are you saying? Is this real?”
“Yes. You do remember how Les had to have surgery. I never told you this, but the honeymoon left a lot to be desired. The bed squeaked and the bathroom was at the other end of the hall and was used by eighteen people. Then the tonsillectomy, right. Also, the two and a half rooms that you and Pat left, and we took over, afforded no privacy. That was how it started. Then there was the new job so far away that Les had to travel two hours each way. There were so many obstacles.”
“But you love each other, surely your emotions would take over, no?”
“Well, no not with the looming surgery and the squeaking bed.” I laughed.
Mary was so surprised about everything. But then when I told her about Nicholas, she was stunned.
“That’s not right, Anna. That’s making the situation almost impossible.”
“I know, Mary. I’m really struggling. On the one hand, I don’t want to forget about him, but on the other hand, I know I have to let go.”
“Has anything happened with him?”
“Not really, we’ve kissed, that’s all. And I have decided to communicate by phone, only. A few times we’ve met downtown for a drink.”
She said, “Anna, you have to discipline yourself. This will lead to no good. Look, I promise I will never divulge any of this to anyone, and my advice is to try harder to gain your husband’s interest. Don’t despair, things will work out if you make your mind up, to do the right thing. Stop these meetings with Nicholas. Use the telephone and gradually stop that too. Do you hear what I’m saying?”
“Of course. I will try all that. Thanks, Mary for not being too judgmental.
It means so much that I have finally told you.”
We hugged and then we had coffee and one of the scrumptious cookies that she baked.
Mary had been married for about four years now and had two babies 1 year apart and found it hard to believe that her little sister hadn’t even consummated her marriage.
“Anna, Puppa will never be able to handle anything like a breakup, because of our mother and, also because of his last heart attack. Please, if things don’t work out, we have to talk again.”
“For sure. I’ll let you know how it’s going.”
I wasn’t in constant touch with Nicholas, at this time, but he did call me at work occasionally. He called in June to say he would be going to Cuba soon, for the summer. I wished him well.
Later near the end of July, I received a letter from Nicholas. He wrote, “Noonie and her father have been keeping me busy fishing and sailing and we are having some great times.”
He then went on to mention all the things he and Noonie were doing along with her father. All the requisite things one does on a Caribbean Island.
I found that I was pleased for him, and, also that he had been so considerate as to send me a letter.
I had photos of him walking tall down some street and one of him as an Altar Boy. On the back of the ‘walking tall’ picture he had written In the midst of it all but above it, I exist. I put the letter with the pictures in my book in the drawer of the night table.
When he returned to Toronto, he phoned me and asked me if I would come to see him. I said, “I don’t think I should.”
“Oh, really. Have you been able to solve the problem?”
“No. I think as long as I keep seeing you, my problem won’t be solved.”
“Anna, I’ve begun to think of you a lot.”
“That’s what I mean. We can’t.”
He didn’t see it that way.
“Nicholas, if I do see you, it will be the last time. So long as you agree.”
We arranged a time for the following day, and I went to see him for the last time.
Nicholas asked, “Just how long will you put up with pretending to your family and friends that you are married in the proper sense of the word? I can’t pretend I don’t want you and I know if you were free, we’d be a couple.”
I thought I truly doubt it.
‘So, okay it is totally in your hands you should do whatever you feel is right, I know the friend thing can’t hold up.”
I said, “I’m sorry Nicholas. I don’t see any alternative to our friendship but to end our contact. I can see as long as I’m seeing you the situation with Les will never end. You know, even though we stop all contact, I’ll always
remember you. Our friendship will never end.”
“I feel the same, Anna.”
Very sadly, we parted. He walked to the end of the street with me and bent and kissed me on the cheek. He looked into my eyes and held my hand so tightly it hurt.
I said, “Nicholas, how many times have we said goodbye? This time it has to be for good.”
He then took my face in his hands and kissed me on the lips. I knew I would never see him again and my heart was broken! I closed my eyes, turned around, and with teary eyes, I walked away.
|Author Notes||Anna has made the decision to make things change.|
By Raffaelina Lowcock
Saying goodbye to someone you really care for is never easy. In the weeks that followed, I tried to compensate for the sadness by thinking positively about Les. Noticing the good things about him. How he was so steady in his attitude toward his job. He never wavered, always arose on time and
left in plenty of time to reach work punctually.
He always arrived home at the same time, six-fifteen, on the dot. He would give me a kiss on the cheek and change into a more comfortable outfit. We would have our dinner and talk about our day, and then we’d go up to the living room and watch something on TV.
However, it suddenly changed. He didn’t arrive home at the usual time, he arrived much earlier. It was about five-thirty, fifteen minutes after I was home. This happened three times.
I said, “Les are you leaving work earlier now?”
“Just these past few days. We wrapped up the coupon job for Procter & Gamble, so things are pretty calm.”
I noticed he wasn’t looking at me when he spoke, he was looking out the window in the kitchen.
His voice didn’t sound friendly. It sounded flat and the words didn’t ring true. Somehow, I felt his tension, as he spoke.
A few days later, I was entering my building from Bay Street, I saw the Key Advertising van at the corner of Wellington and Bay and Les knew I saw him and yet he drove by.
That night he confronted me with Nicholas’s letter and his pictures; (which he later tore into shreds).
He said, “I’ve been following you for the better part of this week. Who was the guy I saw you walking down Bay Street with?”
“When? Why are you following me?”
“Someone called me and told me you are seeing another man. Was that him?"
“Who called you? And why would you believe it?"
“The guy was able to convince me when he described the beauty mark above your knee."
“You’re kidding. So, someone, this person I am seeing, has confided his knowledge of me to the person who called you?
“Obviously! Who was the guy I saw you with? Was it him?” He shouted as he thrust Nicholas’s pictures and letter toward me.
He had seen me walking back to work with our office boy, Tom Jones, who was tall like Nicholas so I understood how he may not have recognized him if he was observing us from the van.
I said, "If you’ve read that letter, you know that who you are talking about is just a friend. Why would he tell me about his girlfriend if we were in a romantic relationship? And, the person you saw me walking down Bay Street with is our office boy, Tom Jones, for heaven's sake Les, get a grip."
“Okay, my mistake, but the rest is all bunk. I know you’re lying. Tell me everything. Here we are in this marriage where we have never had intercourse and I find out you are having an affair. Unbelievable! Do you really think I can swallow the garbage you’re giving me?"
“Les anyone in my girl’s club would know about my beauty mark on my leg or even someone who has seen me in shorts. How can you believe some guy who doesn’t even give you his name, but not your wife? And who gave him this information? Think about what you are saying. If we haven’t had intercourse, whose fault is that? Why would I give myself to someone else? You don’t even know me if you think that. If you’ve been following me you know, I am not seeing anyone, and the person you are talking about is just a friend with whom I am not in contact. So there really isn’t anything to tell.”
He kept twisting the pictures and the letters and he didn't speak, he sputtered. I could tell the extent of his anger and humiliation. His eyes were piercing mine as if they were shooting daggers with a total lack of belief in what I said. But I stuck to my guns.
“Les I will admit that I have been seeing someone through these last few years at intervals. I was very attracted to him when I first met him, but I have not been romantically involved. He has at times, just twice, kissed me. I did not allow anything further and he understood. We were just friends. I admit it isn’t something I should have done, but I needed his friendship through these loveless years.”
He was incensed and wouldn’t believe that we hadn’t gone further. I pointed out the letter.
“I repeat, if there was something between us other than friendship, would he tell me about his girlfriend, Noonie?”
"Here's what I think about that." He then ripped the letter and the photos into shreds that fell to the floor.
Les didn’t buy anything I said. We spent two weeks and a bit, at odds, not speaking. He called my sister Mary at work and tried to tell her what a louse I had been.
She said, “But what kind of a husband have you been?”
I was quite aware that we were at the finish line and that one way or another the next steps would be crucial. I once again saw the writing on the wall. I was devastated and truly unsure of our future.
I had called Nicholas that first week when Les had confronted me and filled him in on what was happening. I told him he needn’t worry that Les would confront him because he didn’t know where he lived. He asked me to let him know if things worked out.
Because Les’s attitude remained that I was totally at fault, and he called me an unsavory name, I confronted him.
“Do you know how humiliated I felt at Fern Cottage when you asked me to remove my rings? Another time you humiliated me was when you wanted to take Peggy Cook home from one of our parties when she was ill. I talked to Peggy and she has filled me in on your attempts with her. You might also like to know that your best friend, Ted, made an unsuccessful pass at me.
“Those are just things I know about. What don’t I know? Why should I have been loyal to you, even though I have been? When lately have you shown me your undying love?
“There is no way I want my father to suffer any more than he has, because of my mother’s actions. One of the reasons I’ve stuck this out is because of him. I could never do what my mother did.”
He listened as I went on “I’ve never stopped loving you although our love has truly cooled. I’m willing to start over again because quite frankly we screwed things up royally. But there is no way I will do that if you think you can treat me like a second-class citizen who has no rights. The only way that I will start over again is with a plan.”
He knew he wasn’t lily-white and as we talked, we damn well knew that we'd have to put more into our marriage."
After our many talks, we ameliorated our feelings into calmer discussions.
Les said, “I promise you, Anna, I will be the husband I should have been. Will you promise me that you will not see Nicholas again?”
“Of course, Les. I told you we are no longer in contact.”
We then made our plan to buy a house, even though we’d have to borrow
part of the down payment from his Mom and Dad.
That’s what we did. We found a two-story house on Newton Drive in Willowdale and moved in.
I could no longer go to night school because we were too far out in the suburbs, but I continued my correspondence course, at which I was doing quite well.
Now we were acting much like we did when we first met. Truly enamored with each other. We grew more and more intimate and finally succeeded in consummating our marriage. In December of 1956, around Christmas, I became pregnant. We were ecstatic.
The privacy of our home made all the difference in the world to us. We enjoyed luxurious weekends and relished being true man and wife, finally.
I called Nicholas, from work when I was about four months pregnant and told him the good news. He was now working for Olivetti.
“Congratulations, Anna. That is good news. I would love to see your pregnant look.”
“Nicholas, I made a promise to my husband that I would never meet with you again. At 5:30 tonight I will be on the Northwest corner of Dundas and Yonge Streets.”
At that time, Nicholas appeared on the Southwest corner, and over the heads of businessmen and women, smiled and waved. He stuck his thumb up in approval!
On September 5th, 1957, I gave birth to our first child, Leslie Anthony Jackson!
|Author Notes||Learning to swim takes a very long time.|
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