St Johns

The apartment on Mountain was a cool place. We got to live in three different suites in that building. I made a new best friend (Glen Haines), who conveniently lived right downstairs. We learned to play Stock Ticker and had to watch out that the neighborhood boys didn’t take advantage of his sister Colleen, who was a bit slow minded. They might try to do dirty things with her.

I learned about stealing, when we lived on Mountain and I learned about getting caught. It wasn’t the head beating from my mother for spending her change at the corner store that cured me of taking things that weren’t mine. It was getting caught trying to lift a pocket knife from a shop on Main Street that did it.

Pocket Knife

“Hooking” it was called. I confess that I wasn’t very good at it. I hadn’t had much practice and putting the pocket knife into my pocket was probably pretty easy to spot. It wasn’t the threat of reporting me to the police that fixed me, it was the shop owner saying he would take me to my house and tell my parents what I had done. Anyway, I had to give him back his knife and was let off without being reported to either police or parents.

Though I liked the Mountain apartment, it was old. When we moved to a new apartment block around the corner, on St Johns, it seemed to me that we had moved up. It was newly built. Just a two-story walk-up, but it was a square building. And it was bright inside, compared to the gloomy dark that invaded all three suites we lived at in the old building.

Apartment on St Johns

We lived on the first floor, at the back. There were big widows and fresh paint. I invited Ronnie Stachursky over to read ‘White Fang’. I had a hardball that I tossed up against the sidewall outside to play catch with myself and once we even got invited for dinner at the neighbors upstairs. It doesn’t look impressive now but back then it was pure white.

I got to walk down the street to a real barber, for 25 cent haircuts and I got to ride the trolley bus on my own. The new place was only two blocks from the old. I finished grade three at Machray school when we lived there.

Bobbie Cowie lived just across Salter. I got to go to his house all the time to play, except when he stepped on the hot stove and burned his feet. We found a dead robin and buried it on the boulevard across from his house, using a pitch fork from his garage.

But that summer, we moved again.

Follow me on my website at www.whjohnson.ca

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