Reflections: Montreal Life
--November 21, 2016.
The snow fell heavily, as the storm outside began to blow patches of white through the trees. It was early morning on a weekday, the street lamps were still lit, as we stayed snug in our warm beds. Sunrise had already arrived, yet the light through our frosted windows, dimmed the daylight into the dark, misty light only found in the midst of a storm. One by one, our daily alarms went off, awakening the house to another predictable day. While wiping our eyes and awakening, we were unaware of the gift that we were all about to receive.
--September 3, 2015.
Need a cab? Pick up the phone and just say “TRenmore-4777”, a Bronx Park Taxi will be at your door. Need the Fire Dept.? Grab the phone (quickly) and say “HEmlock-5323”, and you’ll be talking with the Fire Chief directly. Need new furniture? Stretch-up from your old chesterfield and walk to the phone to say “YOrk-3600” to reach the Fifth Ave. Department Store on Wellington to shop “online”, literally.
Unlike today, access to a telephone was a cherished commodity in the past.
There was a time, not too long ago, when you could clearly identify a car by the shape of its headlights. Many warm evenings were spent on our front porch playing the “Car Call-out game”, to see who could first call-out the make, model, and year of passing cars. “There goes a ’67 Corsair…a ’69 Skylark…a ’74 Monte Carlo”. In those days you could almost instantly shout out a car’s make and model. As in the past, our cars were designed with much more flair and pride in workmanship, giving each car a distinct character.
As we walk through our neighbourhoods, our abandoned school buildings continue to speak to us directly, awaiting their final days in dark, secluded silence. Old friends like Allion Elementary School and Crawford Park Elementary, continue to remind us of the importance these buildings once played in defining who we are today.
Their halls are now empty of the laughter, friendships and school spirit that only children could bring.
Midnight in the European countryside, carrying all of their provisions, including their rifles and ammo, they waded through an ice-cold river, as they heard the sudden order to stop and stand still.
--October 31, 2011.
The flicker of images on the screen was the only source of light for an estimated crowd of 800 who were packed into the old Laurier Theater, for a cold Sunday afternoon matinee on January 9th, 1927. The balcony itself was crammed with almost 300 children ranging in age from 4 to 18, as they stared on in wonderment at the images being projected. It was a silent picture; a comedy called “Get’em Young”. Their views were slightly blurred, as waifs of cigarette smoke formed linear clouds before the screen.
Hey Boy? Oh, boy! Panama, Shanama, Swanee shore, let me dig that jive some more.
--July 13, 2011.
Often when one talks of Montreal’s English-speaking community, our image is of the western side of the island of Montreal. However, just beyond those now-crumbling bridges to and from the South Shore, you will find the officially bilingual community of Greenfield Park.
The voices of young children could be heard singing in the distance over the public announcement speakers. “CAA-NAA-DA, one little, two little, three Canadians…we love thee”.