Charles to Redwood

We had to move. It’s true. Despite the convenience of living close to our herd of relatives, our little one-bedroom apartment was no longer big enough. The bedroom that I shared with my sister and my mother’s young sister, Lillian, who lived with us for a while, was just not going to handle another addition. The arrival of Terence Mark Daniel Johnson forced us from our comfy sandstone.

Here he is, shitting his pants, a fist raised in the air in defiance. The French relatives thought he was adorable and gave him the nickname ‘Little Angel’ (little did they know), while I continued to bear the moniker ‘Little Devil’. These are the English translations, I will spare you the French versions.

There were things I knew I would greatly miss, leaving the sandstone: watching the coal man shovel coal down the chute into the basement so the boiler furnace had something to eat; following the rag man that passed in front of our apartment on his horse drawn cart (yes it is true); my friend Wesley, who lived around the corner and traded his new multi car toy service station to me for a cap gun (his mom made him reverse the swap); and walking to Pritchard pool to swim outdoors on hot summer days (they did not heat the pool in those days). I would have missed my Amma, living next door, but we made frequent return visits to watch her drink coffee that had boiled for three hours and smoke roll-your-own cigarettes. She told great stories.

We moved from the sandstone on Charles to an upper duplex on Redwood. The walk to school was a bit longer but our new home was massive, compared to our little apartment. Sputnik was no longer with us, I’m not sure what became of him, I hope Grandma Ducharme did not skin him like the rabbit and feed him to us. But we got new pets. My sister got a little white hamster that she named Snowball. It escaped from its caged and was lost for a while, until our downstairs neighbor told us that he found a fat white mouse scurrying about in their place and he stepped on it, because he thought they might have a vermin infestation. My pet was not a speedster, like Snowball. His name was Pokey.  A little green turtle that lived in a plastic bowl, with a plastic island for him to climb out of the water and rest on, beside the plastic palm tree. Sadly, Pokey too engineered a great escape and went missing for a very long time. We searched high and low but found nothing, except a mouse hole beside the kitchen stove. Until one day, while sitting on the toilet, I saw Pokey beside the heat vent, dried up like a crusty raisin.

We had a little dog as well. He ventured out onto Redwood one day and got hit by a car. I guess we were not great pet keepers.

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