CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Friday, May 6, 2011

Kindness and Unkindness

 Once the Chrysler made it to Mattawa , Dad and Mum had to find a place for our family to live . Dad would have to wait until a vacancy came available in the duplex section house . That could be years if things didn't work out . Finding a home for the same rent was going to be the trick in a town of 2000. There just weren't many options available . But at least Dad had one of the four section positions in Mattawa . That was something to be thankful for .

Trip 1952
 Old friends , the McOrmond's , who had rented a room to Mum and Dad (and Sis ) for a few weeks prior to the transfer to McKerrow in 1948, came to the rescue . On annual trips to Mattawa the McOrmonds always played host to our family . This time they very generously took us all in until a suitable place could be found .

The McOrmond's three story Victorian home had a two bedroom apartment on the third floor - perfect for Mum and Dad once again . The house was full of children as Mr. and Mrs. M's oldest daughter was also visiting with her five children . However , the house was also full of rooms (22 if you included the three in the basement) . More than enough space for all .

Dad  and Mary McOrmond  surrounded by Kids 1955
  Since it sat on an acre , there was plenty of space for kids to run and play on the front lawn under the tall apple trees . My favorite place , though , was at the back of the house .

A stand of 20 white pines , about 200 feet in height , shaded the whole area . The carpet of needles that had built up over the years muffled all other sounds . It was cool and peaceful . Even voices of excited children were absorbed into the trees .Within seconds , they in turn absorbed the essence of the area - speaking in quiet tones , almost whispering with the pines .

 At one point , the original owners of the house had put in a narrow walk that wended it's way amongst the trees . It was usually covered in a thick layer of brown needles . As children , we always headed to the back to push away the cover and reveal the walk .

In later years as I came to appreciate the house for all it's well-to-do Victorian splendor , I would imagine who had used the path in the pines ...a contemplative man with pressing problems walking out a solution ...a woman reading poetry in a place free of distraction...or a Nanny pushing a pram in and out of the trees that hushed the baby to sleep .

After a month , my parents found a three room house on New Street . The bedroom was for Mum , Dad and the baby . The front room was for Sis and I . The small kitchen was at the back with a cookstove that heated the one story house . It was small and dark as I remember , and you stepped directly off the stoop onto the gravel street . Sis and I played on the street in front of the house .

 There were two other small houses on this part of New Street : one with a couple who didn't want to talk to us and Mrs.Smith who lived in the last house with her son Arnie . They were friendly and welcoming . At four years old , I was thrilled when I said "Hi , Mrs Smith" to always be greeted with her round smiling face and jovial laugh . She made a lasting impression on me . So did her son , who seemed as tall as the trees , but who would always bend down for direct communication with little ones .

My turn to wear the sweater that
had been Sis' at the same age
 When Sis and I went to school in September that year , we followed a little bush trail that led from the end of New Street to the greenfield in back of the Public school and high school . My sister , focused on the task of getting to school , would soon leave me far behind . My short legs never seemed to get me there on time ,  so I was regularly late .

The first time I was late, the teacher who had kindergarten , grade one and grade two in her classroom , scolded me . I don't remember what she said , but her tone and face sent a clear message that she was extremely angry .

The second time I was late, she made me kneel in the corner . I remembered I was allowed to go outside at recess time , the punishment done . That was the first time I was ever punished - Kindergarten 1955 , a few months before I turned 5 .

The third time I was late , I got to school to meet a closed classroom door . I was terrified to think what would be coming my way on the other side . So I did not knock or open it. I squatted in the corner where I knew I would be hidden when the door was opened again .

 When , the time came for recess , I joined the line going out to play , thinking no one would ever know that I wasn't in the classroom . After recess , I made sure that I was last in line . When the teacher entered the room first to supervise entry , I deked back into my hiding place . At lunch time , I walked home with Sis and never mentioned it .

Of course , Sis mentioned that I was not in place at school , and I was prepared for the same reaction as the teacher . I felt sure that I had done terrible things that my parents would dislike ...thereby disliking me the way the teacher did . Mum said that I must run to school as fast as I could and never be late , giving Sis the responsibility of holding my hand .  As was usual , Sis took her assignment seriously , and every morning until I was five , she dragged me to school at her pace . I was never late again that year .

 Mum did not find out for a long time the other things that had gone on in that school room . She had put straight what she did know or learn . But the teacher seemed never to be satisfied with most things my sister and I did . We both tried and discovered that no matter what we did well , it would never be good enough .It was a hard year for both of us .

They say everything you need to know about life you learn in Kindergarten -including things that don't serve you well as I discovered over time .

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