Other Voices
Typed August 12, 1997


On Lajeunesse street on the other side of the street there were vacant lots and we could see the rear of the houses on Berry street. During the summer these lots would serve to store the horse drawn snow removal equipment, such has plows and carts and graders. For the children these vehicles became toys to climb on, or hide inside and jump in and out. Other adjacent lots would be cultivated by the people living on the street. Dad had one of these lots and would plant tomatoes, lettuce, radishes and other vegetables.

There was a cottage two houses south of us with a large garden full of flowers and a high six-foot fence wrought iron fence all around the lot. I would spend hours looking through the fence at the beautiful flowers, they were lovely. I never got permission to enter this lovely garden. (The owner was Mr. Piche who lived there with his wife. They hardly ever had visitors and we could not speak with them because we did not know the language.) Further south there was another house at the rear of the lot and there were apple trees all over. We were never able to get into this orchard but we admired the red apples when they were ripe. There was a big dog and it would bark whenever we passed near the fence.

While we lived there I started going to school. On the first day of school Maria Ciccone brought me to school. I was crying when she let me go and a nun all dressed in black took my hand dragged me in and told Maria to go. A few minutes later all the little girls were in file and we went to our classes. All the teaching was in Italian at first and later French was introduced and English in the following years.

When Zia Generosa Iadeluca died I was dressed in my black school dress to go to the funeral. Dad hired a taxi and Litio, Aurelio dad and I were in it. I got sick and they made me lie down on the rear seat. Before the funeral there was an argument at Zio Luciano's house. His son Vincenzo, who had for some reason joined the Baptist church wanted the funeral service to be held at his church. Zio Luciano insisted that the funeral would be a Catholic one and we went to the Catholic church and the Catholic Cemetery. (This must have been one of the early arguments because Zio Luciano was always at odds with his two boys and as they died before him, he refused to go to their funerals.)

I, also, cleaned the chairs for Zia Agnesa. One day while washing the chairs, I said that the chair was very dirty because the wash water was getting black and insisted that I continue to scrub until the chair was clean. When she saw the chair she became angry because I kept scrubbing the same spot and all the black paint was gone.

I remember when mother fell from the back stairway. Anna or Litio were to take out the garbage and mother said I will go. A few instants later Anna who was looking through the rear door window said "I think mother fell down the stairway." I recall mother being put to bed and she was sick for a long long time.

When I made my first communion mother was in bed very sick. I had to go to school very early that morning, instead I was taken to the church at nine o'clock and all the girls were all seated in the pews and they placed me in the last pew with the nuns. When I went to receive communion I don't know if I fell asleep or lost consciousness but someone had to take me to my place. My godmother`s name was Nini.

The school was quite far away and I carried a lunch to school to eat at noon. There were girls older than me and they would come and sit near me and would ask for the name of my brother and many other things. They would say that he was very handsome and very friendly. All this we realized later because there were always many girls around him.

I understand now why mother had a heavy nervous depression. She left Italy, a country warm and sunny, her mother and father, brothers and sisters and arrived in Montreal at the end of October, a first pregnancy followed by a second one that almost killed her and then the financial crisis that affected the whole world. I shall never forget the strength and patience that dad had and would tell mom to eat and she would reply that if she ate she would die because her stomach hurt too much. Dad would say that she had to eat to survive. It was like that at all meals. Dad would say get up and dress and we will go for a walk. She would say, if I go out I shall fall and dad would reply, if you fall I will pick you up and we will continue walking. With dad's strength, courage and patience she eventually overcame her depressive attitude.

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