Category Archives: 1960s

Pictures can help you write your memoir

 

For those of us writing a memoir or who want to do so, sometimes we get stymied. Where do we start? What do we focus on? What happened in our life that really affected us?

Of course, we may have a specific area of our life we want to focus on. But our memories can play tricks on us. Our memories can “hide” a wealth of information about our past, the people in it and our emotions during those times – even if we think we know how we felt.

So, use pictures to trigger your memory and its whole enchilada. I don’t mean just old family and friend photos. But buildings – your school, the house you grew up in, streets, transit (cars and public), old new-story photos, old ad, even cemeteries.

And even the above which may not be your family photo, may not be a streetscape you are familiar with. You are thinking of the time and what is actually in the picture and transferring it (in your  mind) to your story.

As some of you know, I teach various memoir writing workshops and courses at Toronto Public Library branches. And as the above hints at, the next one, on April 16, is called Using Your Pictures to Create Your Memoir. Most of my memoir writing workshops and courses have something about pictures, particularly those old family and friend photos. An interesting thing I keep discovering is that even if the picture is of my family or friends or me or the house I grew up in – it will always trigger some memory (not connected to me) in some of the participants.

“Oh, the picture of your dad reminded me of my dad.”

“The picture of your house reminded me of the house I grew up in.”

“That picture of your friends reminded me of something that happened with my sister/some of my friends.”

The pictures take on a generic form. And that can happen with transit and streetscapes. For example, a picture of a streetcar can bring up memories of you riding in a streetcar in the past,  lead to something (good or bad) that happened to you while riding a streetcar. Who were you with? What was your relationship to them? And taking it beyond the streetcar ride, what else happened to you and them, especially if a sibling, parent, or close friend? How did you feel towards them? Does it bring up emotions – sad, happy, angry, etc.? And this can lead to more stories with them and maybe with the streetcars. Maybe your dad drove a streetcar or a bus. What were his stories about that?

You can see where a simple picture can lead you in your memoir writing.

Here are the details of my workshop. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in taking it, there is still time to register. And it is free. Yes, I get paid by the library for teaching these workshops.

Using Pictures to Create Your Memoir

Tue Apr 16, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
90 mins

Location

S. Walter Stewart Library

S. Walter Stewart

In this memoir-writing workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford shows how old photos, news stories, ads, streetscapes, and pictures etched in your mind can help create your memoir. Includes how to do picture research and research kick-started by pictures. Through discussion and writing exercises with feedback, you will get a start on your memoir. To register or for more information, please call 416-396-3975.

Meantime, look, really look, at the photo at the top of the post. And see where it leads you in your life.

And the picture below my signature.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family and Friends, Libraries, Life, Only child memoir, Writing workshops

Danforth massacre turns Toronto around

Only Child and Mom

When I was a child, my mom and I used to head for Danforth Avenue or The Danforth as it is called in Toronto to shop. Usually on a Saturday. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s -before the subway ran under the Danforth. We would take the Broadview bus from around the corner where we lived and transfer to another bus a few stops afterwards. This bus took us to one short block north of the Danforth. Mom and I stopped at the butcher’s, several green grocers and the now defunct Kresge’s, Woolworth’s and The Met. Sometimes we even bellied up to the lunch counter in The Met for a hot dog. Every Easter season we were in and out of hat shops trying on hats until we each  found our perfect hat for Easter Sunday. And when my feet grew a little more we visited a particular shoe store where I stood on a machine and stuck my feet underneath the “camera” part to get  my feet measured for new shoes.

Then, the only scary thing, the only blood was at the butcher’s – mainly on his white apron from splashes when he cut the meat. The floor was covered in sawdust, not blood.

Fast forward to this century and now I am back living in Toronto – back almost 20 years. Mom passed away years ago, but I still shopped on the Danforth – at green grocers and now health food stores. I often would stop to rest at the small parkette at Logan and Danforth Avenues. Sometimes I ate at local restaurant with family and friends. I always felt safe – even in the crowds for the annual Taste of the Danforth in August.

That all changed with the massacre on Danforth from Logan westward a few blocks. When the area was turned into a massacre site. When a young man named Faisal Hussain became a murderer,  firing his gun at people. When our world in Toronto just nose-dived to a low in safety. This is a peaceful family area – not late-open nightclubs, not a gang war area But all that changed at 10 p.m., Sunday, July 22, 2018. So far the murder count is two, with the injured at 13, and the killer dead from a gunshot wound. My son referred to it as something unimaginable, akin to a US style gun attack.

I’m not going to post graphic photos of the massacre. I wasn’t there to take them, although I was there a few hours before it happened to shop. But I am providing a few links to stories about this massacre which you can view or not as you wish.

News update to now

More news

A community restaurant owner speaks

Teen killed in  mass shooting identified

Yesterday I posted the following on my Facebook page.

Horrific what happened on the Danforth last night. It is a place where I shop regularly and also eat out there sometimes. Was there near Logan (Carlaw and Danforth) earlier last evening at Healthy Planet. I feel for those who were killed, injured and anyone there and their families. As for the murderer, he got what he deserved.

That last line sums up how I feel about the murderer. So what if he had mental issues. His parents posted that he had mental health problems and all the drugs that didn’t work. What about therapy? Maybe a good therapist would have spotted this possibility. Maybe… Well, that’s after the fact and too late for his victims, for their families, and for all of us in Toronto. I still stand by my beliefs –  except for police officers in the line of duty where necessary and anyone who kills in self-defence and in wars, killing someone else is wrong and the guilty should get the death penalty or at the very least, a life sentence with no parole, no day passes – ever. Canada hasn’t had the death penalty for years but a life sentence isn’t life. And never mind the “not guilty by reason of insanity” – it should be “guilty by reason of insanity”.

Don’t get me going on that.

One thing is for sure. I will not stay away from the Danforth – or anywhere else in Toronto I choose to go because someone might start shooting in the area when I am there. That would be losing my city. That would be giving up. That would be giving in to violence.

Now, I hope the city’s mayor, police chief and the provincial and federal leaders do something about all this. Toronto’s mayor had just started to do something. We need to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of people like  Faisal Hussain. How this can be done I don’t know. If anyone has any ideas, please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s

Only Child on Christmases past

When I was a child (back in the grey ages, of course) there was no Facebook, no Smart phones and no Internet. We had phones – even party lines – at least in the country. We certainly didn’t walk aimlessly on streets or block subway stairs while texting. Things were somewhat simpler then, and although not perfect, perhaps we can learn from looking back into our childhood or for those who are under 45, we can talk to those whose childhood was in the 1950s, 1960s and even 1970s.

Here are a few of my remembrances to share for Christmas.

Before Christmas, my Mom and I would share our Christmas wrapping in a unique way. She would be wrapping mine and some of Dad’s presents in the kitchen and I would be in the dining room right next door wrapping hers and some of Dad’s. Mom had put away her sewing machine which usually sat on the dining room table to make room for wrapping,paper, scotch tape, presents, etc. A closed door hid what we were each doing. Paramount was keeping the gifts secret until Christmas morning. When either of us needed more wrapping paper from the other room, we would loudly give warning so the other person could quickly cover up the unwrapped presents. When wrapped they were all placed under the 6 foot tree in one corner of our tiny living room.

The tree was where Dad came  After it was brought home (and it was a real tree), he would work his magic fitting the tree into the stand – often a long tricky process that left me sitting in the kitchen (no presents around then) staring up at the clock and listening to Jingle Bells on the radio and waiting impatiently to help decorate the tree with the boxes of decorations and lights Mom had brought up from the basement. But when the tree was up, I had to wait even longer until Mom and Dad strung up the lights. Then the moment arrived when Dad plugged them in.

Nothing. No lights. Back then the only way to find out the dead light bulb, was to try each socket  individually with a bulb we knew worked until we found the culprit. But it was worth the wait, especially when we could add the ornaments, the tinsel and the angel on top (Mom or Dad did the latter. I was too short).

Sometimes just before Christmas Day, my godmother, my mother’s younger sister would make a “flying” visit (by car) from the farm for a quick visit. Then Mom would cook a bird. And she didn’t just stick to turkey – it was sometimes a duck, chicken or goose.

When Christmas morning arrived, I was allowed to check my stocking. Nothing else. That had to wait until breakfast and then Mass at Holy Cross Catholic Church. We had no car, so either walked there and back or got a ride from one of Mom and Dad’s friends who lived nearby. At church, the pastor who was long-winded, did shorten his talk after the gospel reading but it was still too long for a kid impatient to open her presents and more important to see her parents open what she had given them.

Back at the house we unwrapped the presents. Yes, I got dolls from “Santa” but clothes and games, too. Dad got the usual dad presents of socks and ties. One year Dad and I went into a jewellery store to get Mom’s gift. But it wasn’t jewellery we were after. I wanted to get Mom a china decoration of fruit to hang on the kitchen wall. Dad, of course, had to pay for it.

If my aunt hadn’t dropped in, Mom cooked the turkey (or goose, etc.) for dinner and we stuffed ourselves. Or we took the bus and streetcar to Dad’s younger sister’s place in what is now Toronto’s Annex area. We shared Christmas dinner with my aunt and uncle, my grandmother, and their three daughters. One Christmas, the youngest one, my age, and I pretended we were private eyes, sure the grownups couldn’t see us through the banister, sitting on the stairs in the hallway My cousin and I peeked into the dining room and listened to the grownups talk and scribbled down notes. What we planned to do with them, we didn’t know.

Sometime our grandmother, who lived there, took us upstairs to her tiny attic apartment on the third floor for a private visit and chat. Always, there were three presents still under the tree and my aunt made it known that they were for her eldest daughter whose birthday was on Boxing Day and she couldn’t open her presents until the next day.

That was then. Now things are so different and not so nice in some ways in the world and that and personal experiences over the years have changed my view of Christmas  and how I spend it. And maybe some of what is important and what is not.

Stay tuned for next week’s post with a bit of what Christmas and New Year’s mean to me today.

How do  you spend Christmas? Is it different from your childhood Christmases? If so, how? And why?

Hope all of you have a good and healthy Christmas or whatever holiday you are celebrating and however you are spending it.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Christmas carolers showing the Christmas spirit in song

Only Child with her late Mom and Dad obviously not at Christmas

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas, Christmas tree, Dad, Family

Only Child says snow snow – yech!

Last evening and overnight, Toronto, Ontario got blasted with the first snowfall of the year. At 14 cm it is certainly not the biggest snowstorm, but being the first one of this season, it seemed like way too much. Especially if like me you had to shovel all the white stuff. Especially when the two guys you used to hire to shovel your snow the past six to eight years seem to have disappeared.

As a senior, I shouldn’t be shovelling the results of big and/or heavy snowstorms. Especially as I am just now getting over a 48-hour virus – which was probably caused by an allergic reaction to too much dust. I don’t have time to dust my place very often and I certainly don’t have time to shovel snow – repeatedly during the winter season. Cutting the little lawn I have repeatedly in the summer is a different story. Especially using a hand mower as my late dad did.

Dad also shovelled the snow when I was growing up – until he got cancer.

But storms weren’t as bad as now back then (1950s and 1960s) – at least on a regular basis. Yes, we had some doozy winter snowstorms. I remember walking home from school at lunch time (yes, we didn’t stay at school for lunch unless we lived too far away) and the snow was up to my thighs. But I was so much shorter then and not so wise, not so knowledgeable, and well, a kid. Now, I’d just like to skip winter – not just for the snow but we get too much of this mixed precipitation and then there are the ice storms.

Actually shovelling the snow was very invigorating. Lucky my virus seems to have either disappeared or got buried for now. But I would still rather go for a walk…in the freezing cold? Temperatures nose-diving later today and will stay that way for the next couple of days. Brr!

Below my signature are a few more photos  of the snow on my property  before I dug in and shovelled.

Do you shovel your own snow or does somebody else? Or do you live in a rental apartment or a condo?

Do you consider snow shovelling a winter sport?

You can probably guess what my answer is as I don’t take part in real winter sports. But I like to watch figure skating – probably because I used o skate as a child and young adult – nothing fancy, just enough to keep from falling as I glided around the rink – outdoors or indoors.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Recycling bins snowed in back of driveway

 

Backyard patio snowed in

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Dad, Life demands, Only child, snow shovelling, Winter Weather

Only Child – Waiting for God(ot)

When I was a child (back in the 1950s and early 1960s – the grey ages) the family doctor made house calls. Made sense if you were too ill to go into the doctor’s office, but not yet emergency for the hospital. Today for the most part you have to sit around in the waiting room, waiting for God(ot), the doctor, to call you in. This waiting around business extends to (and more so) appointments with medical specialists of all ilk. You not only wait months to get an appointment. And God (the real God) forbid that you might have something serious that should be looked at right away.

Yesterday I had my twice-a-year warming a seat for close to two hours in my ophthalmologist’s office. The room was full, stuffy and it gave me a headache.

Some of the other patients  were waiting for God(ot) for a long time too. Some of us started to talk, comparing stories with each other. Two of them, after they finally got in, had to come back out and sit some more while their eye drops simmered so they could get the tests done.

I was lucky here – eye drops were put in to check the pressure behind my eyes. But no sitting around for that. In fact, my appointment wasn’t for a long time and the outcome was good – thanks to the triple prescriptions of eye drops in my left eye, that eye tied with my good right eye with a pressure of 16 – which is in the normal range. That’s good; otherwise the left eye could go blind.

My eye specialist is good at what she does. She is also friendly, helpful, and answers your questions,

So I plunged right in with the waiting room syndrome.

“Maybe you need a partner here,” I said.

She wasn’t offended. She explained that basically it was easier said than done. Any doctor could open his or her own office and make more money than she could pay them. She also seemed to go off on a tangent with the issue of doctors always want and need their residency time in hospitals. Not sure if she meant all categories of doctors. And the Ontario government needs to make changes in the system to allow more ophthalmologists to practice in Ontario, Canada, she added.

Passing the buck?

She may be working within a not-so-good system. But I think her office administration needs an overhaul. The secretary is just booking in too many people each day. I did talk to her a bit when I came in and asked about how long I would have to wait. Then she got into depending on how long they are in the doctor’s office, if any emergency people come in.

All that does have to be considered. But shouldn’t that be factored in when booking people’s appointments?

Or maybe the good doctor will have to do like my regular eye doctor – the optometrist does. He works part of the day on Saturdays.

And maybe the secretary is pacing the appointments better. None of us there booking our six months in the future appointments could get one before May 2018. That’s eight months, not six months, from now.

This is just one example of waiting for God(ot). Specialists for arthritis, cancer, heart have the same situation.

Who and what are to blame?

What do you think?

What is your personal waiting experience with your family doctor and any medical  specialist you have had to go to?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

And in case you wonder, I’m only posting to this Only Child Writes blog every two weeks. Still on Tuesdays. Because I  have another mystery novel in my Beyond series coming out this October – Beyond Faith – and all the promotion for that takes a lot of time. But you can check out my author blog which talks about that and fiction writing. I post to it every Thursday. Here’s the Sharon A. Crawford author blog.

It also give you a peek at the cover.

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, God, Health, Life demands, Only child, Time management

Time is a four-letter word

The Rolling Stones had it right in their song about time not being on their side. It certainly isn’t on mine and from what I see and hear around me it isn’t on anybody else’s radar either.

Sure, the digital world we live in and this constantly being connected has something to do with it. But  too much coming at us non-stop and too much to do have a lot to do with why we feel frazzled and feel like we are running an endless race at Indiana 500 speed.

If I go back to when I was a child (back in the grey ages, of courses) in the 1950s and first half of 1960s, things seemed to be moving a lot slower and there was less to concern ourselves with. But that’s looking at it in hindsight and considering that back then I saw things as a child.

Life was not without its big problems, the main one being my father having cancer (that’s a topic for another post). But I don’t recall my parents, and certainly me, juggling so many balls in life as people do now.

A friend of mine, who is in the same age bracket as me, said she has three quarters of her life’s worth of information running around in her brain. That is part of it.

We also seem to have to do too much and need to learn to slow down – or at least cut some of the crap from our life. We need to ask ourselves what is important to us and that includes the bad as well as the good. If we have financial problems, we can’t say that isn’t important because we don’t like our situation. It stays in – at least as something we have to do something about.

But irrelevant things such as irrelevant phone calls and emails. Do we need to bother with them? Ignore! Ignore! Delete! Delete! Life is too crazy and too short to be bothered with what isn’t important.

Draw up a list of categories or areas in your life that are important to you. Keep it down to a half dozen or less. Figure out what under those areas are important and focus on them. And not all at once. One day it may be your family; one day it may be your health, one day…well you get the picture.

And yes, I know we all get the unexpected surprise – good or bad – and unless it is something devastating like Hurricane Harvey (for another post), you need to stop and think – is it necessary for me to concern myself with this? And if so, is now the best time?

It might help if I could follow my advice.

For those that wonder – my list of important categories is (in no particular order) Family, Health, Work (which includes my soon- to-be published Beyond Faith mystery), House and Garden, and Finances. Anything else shouldn’t even make the priority list.

Of course, some of the above often become mingled.

So it’s out intomy garden I go.

And that’s life.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Delete, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Organizing and Deleting, Prioritizing

Only child’s take on dining out(side)

Only Child with Mom in the backyard

In the stifling hot days of summer, my mother would haul out the whole paraphernalia for our family of three to eat outside in the summer. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s when air-conditioned homes were not the norm. But at suppertime, our backyard had shade.

So, with some help from Dad and me, and several trips – from the kitchen, down the side stairs, out into the driveway to the backyard went a small card table, three chairs, table cloth, serviettes, cutlery, plates, and all the dishes of food – depending on what we were eating. And yes, it was often hot food. But the entrance to the backyard was inviting – an archway of red roses.

Only Child’s Dad under the backyard entrance

It was enjoyable eating outside in the breeze. But when even the temperature in the shade rose too high, mom used her backup plan – eating in the basement. Before the basement renovation, we would sit in our own private dining room with black floors, huge cement pillars, a furnace turned off for the summer, the old coal bin (which remained after the switch to oil heat) and mother’s pride and joy – her root cellar where all her canned jams, pickles, green tomatoes and the like were stored.

You could say it was all a labour of love combined with necessity – either roast or eat the roast, be cool or sweat.

But Mom had a dirty little secret, one which was shared among some of the women on her side of the family.

Except for cooking, canning and sewing, my mother hated housework.

I don’t recall her even doing a weekly housecleaning, except for laundry and it got hung out (even sometimes in winter) until she purchased a clothes dryer. But vacuuming and dusting, cleaning bathrooms, etc.? Only if company was coming.

Then it was the big hustle to make everything neat and clean. Put away in closets and drawers were all her sewing paraphernalia – including the portable machine. You see, the home for all of that was the dining room table. And we needed that for the dinners for company. Company was mostly family and some friends. Mom did love to cook and bake and our family loved to eat.

But cleaning the house. Not in our genes.

And I think this dislike, even hatred for doing housework, is in the genes. I can’t find any scientific proof, so I will use anecdotes. My mother’s youngest sister , my godmother, was the same – loved to cook and bake, garden, and can, but clean? However, my godmother was a farmer’s wife, so there was lots else to do that your average housewife of the 50s and 60s didn’t do. But that doesn’t explain one of my Detroit Michigan cousins – who loved to sew and cook but hated to clean.

Are you getting the picture?

As for me – well I love to cook and garden, but freeze and dry garden vegetables and fruit (sometimes from the Farmer’s Market, not just my garden). I used to like to sew but lost interest over the years – I blame that on other interests taking over, lack of sufficient time, but also bad eyesight. When I am forced to mend an item of clothing, I can take more time threading the needle because I can’t see the hole, than actually mending. And this from a woman who made all her maternity clothes and used to quilt by hand.

As for the weekly housecleaning – some of it gets done – the laundry, changing bed-sheets, clean kitchen counters and sinks, and vacuum or mop. Dusting? Maybe every six weeks – to borrow a friend’s phrase “too much work.”

But nothing beats going outside on the veranda or in my backyard patio to eat my meals. I have it easier than Mom. Sure, for the backyard, I have to use a side door like Mom. But there is a patio table and umbrella already out there, so it is just bring out the food, sit down and eat. And breathe in, feast my eyes and nose on the flowers and veggies in my garden.

Top of my patio table up close

 

And try to keep the wasps away. I’m allergic to them. But it’s my patio and my garden.  So when it’s not raining, I’ll sit, eat and enjoy.

Looking from the patio at fresh lettuce, rhubarb and oregano

 

So, do you regularly clean your house, condo or apartment?

Or do you have better things to do? And if so, what are they?

I’d like some comments about this.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family, Garden, Gardening, Heat summer, Hereditary, Home and Garden, Mom and Dad, Only child