The Cat Lady

We moved back to Winnipeg in the summer of 1964. I don’t really know why; I was only ten and a half. Probably because of my father’s ongoing pursuit of the greener grass. In any case, we moved into a house on Lansdowne Avenue, #59, and shared the place with an aunt and daughters. We also boarded my invalid uncle. He occupied the back porch, which had been converted into a small bedroom off the kitchen.

I began my grade 6 school year at Luxton School. It was the first of three schools I went to that year. My teacher was Mr. Miki. It was assumed his named was shortened from something like Mikado or Mikashumi. My father called him a ‘Nip’, because he was Japanese. I found this a bit confusing because I had always thought that a ‘nip’ was another name for a hamburger. ‘Goin to the A&W for a nip and chips’. I thought Mr. Miki was okay, just a regular teacher guy. I didn’t realize that some people harbored unnecessary discriminatory feelings against people of Japanese heritage, that continued to linger from the second world war. I guess my father was one of those.

There was a little corner store called the Cathedral Confectionary. It was very convenient. And there was a small park next to the school yard. I got in a fight there against a small gang of boys. One of them had an artificial leg and walked funny, kind of a hop-a-long, from side to side. He kneed me in the groin with his fake leg. I think it was made of tin because it sound like tin cans clanging together when he walked. My cousin ran home to tell my father that I was getting beaten up. He came to save me but there was no need.

The Cat Lady

Our neighbor next door was an old lady that lived alone, except for about a thousand cats she kept. She never came outside and I never saw her cats outside either. But if I stood on the kitchen counter I could look through the window into her kitchen and see her hoard of cats. Perhaps not a thousand, maybe a million. I wondered what her house smelled like. Once I even saw her; an old crone of a woman with her grey hair tied back into a bun. I guess she loved those cats, but it was a bit creepy and weird.

One time I met her adult daughter who came to visit. She said her mother didn’t have to live like that because she had lots of money.

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