Brad Woods, Story Teller

Brad Woods, Story Teller

Esi Edugyan wins Giller Prize 2018

Esi Edugyan wins Giller Prize 2018
Novel: Washington Black

Thursday, December 13, 2018

A letter from Helen Cimone, the Book Bag Lady.

Hello Joan
I am happy to pass along that we have added more new titles to the Book Club in a Bag collection. You can put any of these on hold for your group by using Kitkeeper
A big huge THANK YOU to all the book clubs that generously donated these wonderful books. 

New Titles:
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware. Purchased by the Friends of the Library
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Purchased by the Friends of the Library
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. Donated by the Beaches Book Club
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. Donated by the 3M Book Club
Keeper'n Me by Richard Wagamese. Donated by the Kakabeka Book Worms
The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston. Donated by the Chapter One Book Club
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. Donated by the Murillo Book Club
Helen Cimone
Community Hub Assistant - Collections

Mary J.L. Black Library
901 Edward Street South, Thunder Bay, On P7E 6R2
TEL: (807)-345-8275
FAX: (807)-475-7855


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas is nice but also naughty as Pat McLeod shows in this story.

A Trumponian Christmas
by Pat McLeod
"Gentlemen, we have a problem." Donald stood at the head of the cabinet table. Everyone else sat so he could look down on them. "It's a big problem. Huge problem." He spread his arms. "A problem that could affect the whole country and the Fake News media is propagating the problem." He grimaced at the assorted toady's gathered round each eager to pounce on the problem to win a 'Great Guy' accolade.
"Anything Justice can do, sir," wagged AG Whitaker, "we'll arrest and hold indefinitely."
"I may hold you to that.." Trump looked blank, finger at mid point.
After an uncomfortable few seconds. "Matt." Still blank.
"Whitaker, Attorney General."

"Right." Trump finished pointing. "Good answer."
"Dad," Ivanka looked up from sending an email, "what's the problem?"

Don leaned on the table, lips pursed, looked down each side of the table.
There was a collective inhale.

"I like Christmas," clapped Don Jr. His Game Boy blinked off. He clapped again to turn it on.
The Donald ignored him. "Everyone loves me," he spread his arms, "we know that and that's what is holding this country together. Me. But this Santa Claus guy, he's bad news. He gives Fake Joy. Toys and stuff.Doesn't make America great. I make America great. I bet he's a democrat. Trying to turn people against me with good cheer and giving. It's weak. America doesn't need weak. America needs strong. America needs me. Without Fake Joy distractions."
"I like Santa," said Eric snatching away Don Jr's GameBoy.
"Hey! Give it back." Don Jr and Eric did a momentary Two Stooges slap and pinch until John Kelly cuffed them both in the back of the head.
"Thanks Chief," smirked Trump. "So...we get rid of Claus and Christmas follows." 

"Sir?" one of the seated billionaires raised a hand.

Donald pointed.
"Mnuchin, Treasury. Sir, Christmas is good for business. People spend more, charge more than they can afford, alcohol and gun sales soar."
"Breath easy Muncher." Trump smiled. "I always have a plan. We'll still have presents, excess, the odd shooting to distract people, but instead of Claus and Christmas we'll have me and Trumpmas." He spread his arms wide and smugged.
"Great idea.."
"Love it...
Ivanka grabbed Jared by the tie. "If this happens hire a Santa for the kids."
Kushner whispered back. "Iv, this is insane."
"Of course it is," she hushed. "The Christian Right will persecute him, he'll get turfed and I'll be President."
" doesn't work that way, dear."
Ivanka glared. "Did I ask you to speak?"
"Okay," said the newly self-declared Son of God, "all your departments drop everything and everyone focuses on getting rid of all things Claus and Christmas and replace them with cards, decorations, department store Donalds. We've got warehouses of the stuff I had made in China before the tariffs."
"Sir," it was Haspel from the CIA, "I'll have armed drones blanketing the Arctic. Claus makes one move and he's blood splatter."
"Canada and possibly Russia may have issues with armed aircraft over their territory." Pompeo, State.
"Don't worry about them," declared Trump a hydraulic pedestal in the floor slowly began raising him towards the ceiling. "I'll pussy tweak Justin and tell him what is what. And Vlady will probably want in on the bombing.
“Have a Glorious Trumpmas."
The North Pole Lounge was hopping on a Tuesday afternoon. Three weeks to the Day and Santa had declared an afternoon off so no one got burned out on the final push. The Glorious Sons were rocking the stage. Penguins, Gentoos and Crosby, were putting on a show on the anti-gravity dance floor. Conor McGregor was back in his Leprechaun suit, tending bar and arguing with Bruce Willis, who was also a Leprechaun. Blitzen sat in a corner wearing a 'Thank God I'm Canadian' t-shirt, a hummingbird as his hovering roach clip.
Santa, in a Komodo Dragon Speedo, raised a shot glass. "I believe this was a good idea." Merry, a blue pixie, Shzzp and Slrrt all tinkled glasses.
“Yes, Dear,” said Merry. “Occasionally, you have one.” She was in a low cut, high hem Tinkerbell outfit with wings that fluttered occasionally to maintain her equilibrium as the tequila did it’s work.
Santa looked across the table, which was just a hovering table cloth with a crystal ball on it, at the two elves. “So, you two going to get a room or what?”
“Ah..what...”stammered Shzzp.
Santa nodded at the centerpiece. “That’s a crystal ball. I can see you two diddling each other under the table.” Slrrt’s usual green skin flipped bright red.
“HO HO HO!” roared Santa body jiggling. “Quite the poker face, Slrrt.”
Naughty List Enforcer Gaga strode over in egret feather thigh high boots, a sliced baloney skirt and Black Forest Ham bra. A lawn elf-sized elf staggered behind her carrying a sixty inch Samsung.
“Hi, Stephani,” said Merry, wings burring. “Nice outfit. Kohl’s?”
“IGA. We have a situation."
Santa immediately sobered. "What’s up?”
“Toby,” Gaga snapped her fingers at a giraffe who stepped over and lifted the screen from the elf and held it high. “Snkk.” The little elf scurried up onto the tablecloth punching buttons on a minute laptop. The screen lit up showing a boardroom from an angle below the tabletop. Trump was spouting.
“This the Whitehouse?” asked Santa.
“Yes.” Gaga said. 

“How you getting it?"

 "We have a mole.”
“Who’s the mole?”

“A mole. He’s hiding in a plant.”

“The mole is a mole?”

“Actually the camera is shaped like a mole on the face of the mole.”

“So the mole is a mole on a mole.”

“Correct.” The camera angle changed and was now looking down on the President.
Santa looked at Gaga, brow arched.
“Fly on the wall,” she said.
“WHAT!”Merry’s hair turned bright red, her wings blurred flying her to the screen. “YOU SON OF A BITCH!!” She punched Trump.
“MER!” roared Santa. He grabbed one leg, Clyde the Orangutan grabbed the other. Merry twisted, red eyes glaring down at them.
“That narcissistic piece of shit is trying to replace Christmas with himself!” she growled.
“Merry, calm down,” soothed Santa. “We’ve dealt with these people before.” McGregor and Willis ran up.
“Say the word Sants,” nostril flared McGregor, “and I’ll shove me pointy boot up his arse.”
“And I’ll shove my fist down his throat and pull Conor’s boot out,” added Willis. “And for the record, I’m a Republican.”
A crowd formed around the cracked screen hissing disapproval until a seagull dive bombed and dropped a steamer on Mr. President and cheers went up.
"Santa," Gaga smacked a wolverine that was trying to shorten her skirt, "let me kill him."
"Steph, we don't do that." Behind Santa, Merry growled amid Clyde's embrace.
"Extreme circumstances."
"OKAY," Claus grew in size and volume. "EVERYONE CALM THE FUCK DOWN!" The room quieted. "Nobody is killing, maiming or beating up anyone!" Gaga and Merry glared back. "Okay, maybe a little," he pointed a peace sign at them, "but no permanent scarring." That calmed the bloodlust. "Snkk, get the reindeer up and find those drones. Slrrt alert all our US associates to double up on the Christmas spirit to counteract this Trumpmas bullshit. Shzzp get the sleigh prepped. We're going to Washington."

"Yes Shzzp."

"Maybe ditch the Speedo." "HO HO HO...JINGLE BALLS."

"Donald you can't get rid of Christmas."
"Already in progress, Melania. Couldn't stop it if I wanted to."
She grabbed his arm. "All you have to do is say stop."

"Yeah, you're right. But I'm not going to."
"Donald," she stopped him. They were in the hallway near the Lincoln bedroom. Two Secret Service agents pretended to look at the floor. "Children love Santa Claus. He makes them happy. Makes them smile."
"Smiling is overrated, Melania. You never smile. In fact in the last two years the only time I've seen you smile is when that twerp Justin is in the room." He raised an eyebrow. "Why is that, Melania?"
"You are an ass."
"Whatever." He held up a McDonald's bag. "I'm going to the office to tweet the country a Glorious Trumpmas." He marched away.
Melania turned to the Secret Service men.
"Would you please shoot him."
"Can't do that ma'am."

"Can you lend me a gun?"

"No ma'am."
"Would you take a bullet for him?"
"Not a chance in hell, ma'am."
She nodded to the agent on the left. "You. My room." She began to follow the agent through the door then stopped and turned to the other one. "You too. Let's go." The agent crossed the hall loosening his tie. Melania licked her lips.
Donald entered the Oval Office taking a bite out of his Big Mac while his right thumb tweeted. He kicked the door shut and ...
"Who the hell are you!"
Gaga sat at his desk in a shimmering black trench coat and fedora. Her feet, clad in arrow sharp stilettos stretched out and clacked onto the desktop. A black mamba, tongue flicking, slid out the collar of her coat and slowly slinked down her legs, beady eyes fixed on the President.

"Yell all you want, Donny," Gaga's voice seethed with disgust. "No one is listening."
Something nudged Trump's hand. He looked down as a cougar gently took the Big Mac from his hand, lay down and started eating. The front of his pants darkened.
"Oops," grinned Gags.
"Don." A voice from behind.
Trump spun. Jaw dropped. Seated was a bearded guy in a red, fur-lined business suit. Beside him Merry and a tall dude with pointy ears.
"We need to talk Don," said bearded dude.
"Is this some kind of joke. How'd you get in here?" Snorted Don, regaining some composure.
"Claus." Santa rose offering a hand. "Santa Claus." He reached out and took Trump's unoffered hand. "I can pretty much go anywhere. Hmmm. Small hands."
Trump snatched his hand back. "Doesn't mean anything. I'm huge everywhere else. Gargantuan." He looked at Slrrt, "You want to see." Then to Merry. "You?" Merry blazed.
"Whoa, Donny." Santa placed a hand on Trump's chest. "You might not want to be poking that one with a stick."
Trump sneered and slapped the hand away. "I'm the President. I'm Donald Trump. Most powerful man on the planet. Nobody tells me what to do."
Clyde released Merry who flew across the room, grabbed Trump and slammed him down on the desk. Gaga's needle sharp heel slowly began pressing against his jewels. 

Merry hissed down at him."You are going to cancel this Trumpmas bullshit right now or she is going to skewer your balls one at a time and feed them to Heather here." The cougar looked up licking her lips.
"I can do that..."
Slrrt dialed and handed him the phone.
"John...ah.. cancel the whole Trumpmas thing...I've...ah...changed my mind."
"Good idea, sir. Wasn't really catching on. A couple of department store Trumps have been beat up and people are burning anything with your picture on it."
"Yeah...Okay.." Gaga pushed a bit harder. Trump's eyes widened. She cocked her head. "Oh...and Merry Christmas, John." His eyes widened further as Merry continued to push down.
"If one child is disappointed this Christmas because of you I will peel your skin like a mandarin orange."
Clyde peeled Merry off Trump. Heather licked his face and helped him to his feet.
"HO HO HO," boomed Santa. "Doesn't that feel better, Donny?"
Donny sneered.
"You can spin this, Donny," said Santa. "Tell the people that you gave them Christmas back. They'll love you."
Don pondered. "I have haven't I?" He puffed up. "I gave Christmas back to America. It'll be glorious."
Santa slapped him on the back. "That's the Christmas spirit, but just in case, I'm going to leave Michelle here at the White House to keep an eye on things."
"Who's Michelle?"
Gaga came around the desk and faced Trump.
"You're Michelle?" he ogled.
The black mamba oozed out from beneath her platinum hair, stretched out and tickled his nose with her tongue.
"That's Michelle," said Santa.

Trump stiffened as Michelle slithered across his shoulders and coiled down his body to the floor.
"Careful," hushed Gaga flicking his chin with a red nail. "She has a temper."
The whole entourage gathered by the fireplace. MERRY CHRISTMAS, DONNY.
They were gone
.Trump looked down at Michelle, who hissed and slithered away.
"MELANIA!" he yelled, ran out of the room, past two Secret Service agents and burst in the Lincoln bedroom. His wife was stretched out naked on the bed. "Melania you won't believe what" He cocked his head. "Melania, you're smiling."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Governor General Awards 2018 Here they are!

With emotion, daring, magic, profound ideas and just the right words, this year’s GGBooks winners again remind us how essential Canadian literature is to our lives.
Simon Brault, Canada Council Director and CEO 
English-language winners (by category and peer assessment committee citations)
    The Red Word – Sarah Henstra (Toronto, Ontario)
    ECW Press
    "Groundbreaking and provocative, this is an astonishing evisceration of the clichés of sexual politics as they exist not only on our college campuses, but also within broader present-day society. Alternately heartbreaking, funny, and critical, no one gets off easily. The Red Word plumbs the depths of literature, mythology, history, philosophy, and a host of contemporary issues—an utterly effing good read."
    Wayside Sang – Cecily Nicholson (Burnaby, British Columbia)
    "'there are times that a car bends perspective
in its motion
                             making room'
In this hypnotic suite of long poems, Cecily Nicholson makes room, offering glimpses and echoes of the Canadian landscape as she explores ideas of borders, identity, industry and travel. She offers a catalogue of impressions, a collage of the ephemeral, held together by image and the pulsing phrase that stays with you long after the journey’s over."

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Story of a Painting

Tammo Geertsema posts this essay to describe this painting.  Tammo Geertsema is a member of the Sault Indigenous Writers Collective. I found the description insightful and fascinating, a real learning experience. 


Boozhoo, hello!

This painting, which I made in a time span of two moons, was completed in 2012, on the third day of the Maple Syrup Moon. This day, on April 3, marks the beginning of a life-long friendship and cooperation between two kindred artists, one a jeweler and a graphic artist and the other a painter and a poet and both storytellers at heart, each in their own right. Countless beautiful tales have been spun around the mystery of the Storytellers' Mirror ever since and still the story goes on...

The painting depicting two children, a girl and a boy, flanked by two storytellers, is a traditional teaching diagram that is inspired on the visual imagery of the ancients, as well as on the (relatively) modern teachings of the Medicine Wheel. I created the diagram like one would tell an aadizookaan, an allegorical tale containing multiple layers of meaning.
The image represents the act of storytelling viewed from a double perspective, or rather from two (mirrored) perspectives: that of aadizookewinini (the human storyteller, the person to the left) and that of aadizookaan WIINABOZHO (the supernatural protagonist of the story, the person to the right). Grandfather telling the story and Wiinabozho himself are both accomplished storytellers in their own right.

But when Grandfather and Wiinabozho combine forces, they create a magic energy that bounces off one another to spin a truly amazing tale!
The tale of this painted diagram - and the layers of meaning it carries - are told in the tradition of the sacred pictographs the Anishinaabe ancestors left us, scattered over numerous cliff walls and hiding in remote caves near the coastlines of the Great Lakes; like the ancient spirit drawings, and like a Medicine Wheel, the painting is a mirror, or reflection of things that are inside every single one of us. This mirror concept reveals how there are many aspects to us and that in each aspect of us there are even more aspects to discover. As my friend Simone put it eloquently: “The Storytellers painting you did, the very imagery…is shown in the old rock images that lurk inside us somewhere”.

The storytelling figure to the right represents Wiinabozho, half man half manidoo, who is also known by a variety of other names and spellings, including Wenaboozhoo, Nanabozho, Manabozho, Nanabush, and Wiisagejaak.

Wiinabozho is considered to be the source and embodiment of the lives of all sentient things, such as humans, animals, and plants. Every living thing on, beneath, and above the earth he gifted with a spirit and a soul, and to each he taught – through his magic powers and through his parabolic stories - the necessary tricks needed to outsmart and outwit their enemies. Not only did he impart to the Anishinaabeg the best remedies for treating illnesses, he, being an expert shape shifter himself, taught the animals how to disguise themselves so that they could survive.

Thus the Anishinaabeg, although he often presents himself as a trickster and a mischievous fantasist, regard Wiinabozho first and foremost as a manidoo possessing great wisdom in the prolonging of life.

If you look closely at the persons in the painting you will notice that I used X-RAY IMAGERY to fill in the contour lines with designs and patterns of animals and images of aadizookaanag (animal spirits and spirit guardians).
This method of depicting the internal forces, not the subject of the painting itself, as the main focal points, is one of the essential features of a contemporary spiritual art that makes use of X-rage imagery.

This art form, which is often called NATIVE WOODLAND, or MEDICINE ART, is derived from mazinaajimowin, the ancient Anishinaabe tradition of spirit writing, where sacred images were painted on, and sometimes inscribed in, rocks and birch bark by the ancestors.

The intention of X-ray imagery is to transport the audience into the sacred spirit world revealing the true nature of things, where the soul, or essence, is more important than the body containing these things.

The images of the children and the figures that I placed inside the bodies of both children and storytellers are rich with symbolism and carry different layers of meaning; their precise meaning I will not impart here – at least, not all of them and not completely.

The knowledgeable elders who told sacred stories or knew how to read the rock paintings and carvings did not explain everything either; they revealed just enough to make people realize it is better not to want to take shortcuts to wisdom and knowledge. The idea behind this is that one has to live up to the old teachings before one is able to fully carry the wisdom the stories and the rocks contain. In order to understand the core of the teaching the diagram wants to impart, however, it is essential to know that the X-ray figures I placed inside the bodies represent (some of) the protagonists and antagonists of the tales being told: beings like thunderbirds, an underwater spirit, a sturgeon, snakes, a marten, a badger, a raven, water fowl, medicine-bearing plants and flowers, and a birch- bark covered wiigiwaam (wigwam) that are one way or another related to Wiinabozho stories.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Chapter Thirteen

Jackie D'arce's memoir continues into her teens and there the unhappiness of her childhood and the sexual abuse she experiences catches up with her. But at the same time, her high school days offer a great deal of delight. Light and Shadow once again in this unforgettable chapter.

Hovering Above Myself: A Memoir
by Jacqueline D'arce
Chapter Thirteen
Yesterday, February 24, was my birthday. I ordered a cake from Metro (best cakes in town) and in pink icing it read: “Happy 75th Birthday Jackie.”  Everyone who read that said, “Seventy-five? But you look sixty.” Great to hear! On the phone when I told callers I’d just turned seventy-five, they said, “But you sound so much younger.” I don’t think people were just buttering me up, because there was genuine surprise on their faces and in their voices when I said: “Seventy-five.”  I really don’t care anymore about this aging thing, but it’s nice to hear you’re aging well.

Joan Baril came to visit on my birthday. She’s a novelist, a short story writer and the webmaster of literarythunderbay. She is a very good writer and an excellent judge of others’ writing. She likes my writing! Yay!

Joan brought me a ‘Cash for Life’ scratch-off card. We laughed.

We went through a photo album of old pictures of me, Mother, Father, Jeffrey (Jane,) Rusty, etc. All black and white of course. Joan picked out photos that would work best with my chapters on the website. I noticed that in baby pictures of me I was always smiling, broadly. Later, no smile.

Jane came bearing a cup of coffee (a rare treat,) books for me to read, her dog, seventeen-year-old Panda and a card. The card pictures a lady in a tight-waisted gown with a huge skirt. At the top of the card it says: “Her Ladyship Eleanor Pillingsworth.” Lower down over the voluminous skirt it reads: “The Gardener,” with an arrow pointing under her gown.

Inside, Jane wrote: “Congratulations on not becoming senile.” Everyone howled.

Stephen, my nurse, came (treated me) and brought a lovely card. He said the cake was the best he’d ever had. (The cake got good reviews from everyone.)

It was a very happy birthday.

I definitely feel more mature now.

I was still very close friends with Tom, next door. He was immersed in reading science fiction, so I tried it too. I loved it. Tom and I also followed the space race. The Americans were testing rockets all the time and we followed these blast-offs closely. Then in 1957 the Russians did it: They got a satellite into space. It was called ‘Sputnik.’ I remember being filled with joy and excitement. I practically ran all the way to Wiley Street to see Tom. Tom was as excited as me. It was a first step in exploring space: The idea was no longer science fiction. As for the science fiction, I’d discover an author, enjoy him, then read everything he wrote. Writers like Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein and others.

One non-science fiction book I read was Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy. It was a shocking book: A young milkmaid is raped by an aristocrat. I empathized with her so I wrote a book report about it for an assignment. The teacher came down on me. I was too young to understand Hardy’s book. I assured her, I understood it. Then it was: I shouldn’t be able to understand it. I was only thirteen.

 “Please,” I said, “I read the book and I understood it. A terrible thing was done to Tess. Doesn’t my book report sound like I understood the book?”

My teacher was holding the volume in question. She waved it at me.

“Jackie. This is a very sophisticated book. It’s taught in University.”

“So why is it in our school library?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do I get a bad grade because I understood something I’m not supposed to understand?”

“No. No. I guess I have to believe you. It’s a good report. You’ll get an A.”

Nights, just before I fell asleep, I continued my quest for God. I wanted to believe in Him. And such a lovely reward if you did: Heaven. How wonderful to be able to believe (that as long as you are good) Heaven awaits you. And all your family will be waiting for you too. I would see Gramma Cryderman again. And Rusty, because surely a loving God would welcome pets into Heaven. But exactly where was this Heaven? Somewhere between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space? Where? Hard to imagine.

I liked what Jesus had to say about love: God is love. I didn’t know much about love. It was never mentioned at home. I was curious about it. I think I wanted it. People said ‘I love you’ in movies, never in real life. With every book I read, whenever an author said: ‘Love is…’ I read with intensity. So what I learned is: Love is trust. Love is kindness. Love is affectionate. No one was affectionate at home, except to the dog and the cat.

Love forgives. Was I supposed to forgive my father? I just couldn’t. It was almost unbearable being anywhere near him. And what about tolerance? I was passionate about tolerance. I knew I was a little on the odd side. The problem was my brain: It drew, it wrote, it got great grades. Was I supposed not to do any of that so people wouldn’t feel uncomfortable around me? I didn’t want people to be intolerant of my differences. I thought if I was tolerant of them, they would be tolerant of me.

This didn’t prove to be true. When I was in Grade Ten I had a locker that I personalized. On the door, I had taped up some pictures of horses I found in a magazine. One day I opened my locker and saw that the pictures were defaced: Someone had scribbled all over them. Then when I went to put on my snow boots, I found they were filled with garbage. Apple cores, orange peels, banana peels, old crusts. Someone was very intolerant of me. I didn’t know who.

 It was UncaBill who first made me think about tolerance. Every so often he would go on a rant. He sounded like a Nazi as he railed against kikes (whatever they were) wops, dagos, niggers et al. When an immigrant Italian family moved in next door he went into a tirade: They were taking over! And so on. I was proud when Gram went next door, welcomed them into the neighbourhood and brought them some cookies. That was tolerance. I vowed to be tolerant of everyone, no matter what. Love was tolerant. I wondered if anyone would ever love me. I was ready to love them. With tolerance.

I was experiencing the opposite of love. Sometimes I couldn’t stand to be under the same roof as Father—that’s why I escaped to town. One night I wanted to use Grampa’s car—now really Mother’s car—for transportation. Mother said: “No! You have to stay home.”

We yelled back and forth for a while, then I just ran out into the winter night, barely taking time to grab a winter coat. I had just washed my hair so it hung around my face in wet strands. The night air was freezing. In high dungeon, I marched down the driveway to the highway and trod on. It was seven miles to town. I could do that. Shortly, though, a pickup truck pulled over. I went up to it and peered inside. A nice young man. Yes, I would love a lift to town. By now my hair was frozen. I sat shivering, thawing. We drove off.

The boy and I talked. But then things went weird. He drove down a sideroad and pulled up next to a field. I was instantly scared. What had I done? He reached for me, but I resisted. “I won’t hurt you,” he kept saying. Oh yeah? Just touching me hurts me. He kept trying and I kept pushing him away. He didn’t try very hard, thank whatever entity might be out there. He was breathing harder and harder. Suddenly he shouted, “Oh!” arched his back while turning toward the other door. I was mute with fear, my black cloud was shooting out thunderbolts. But then he turned the truck around and went back to the highway. He dropped me at cousin Gord and Dora’s. Dora called Mother and she came and picked me up. We drove home in silence. I would never hitchhike alone again. It just wasn’t safe anywhere.

When I reached fourteen, Janice got me a job at Loblaws, the big grocery chain. One of the chains that was gradually starving my grandfather out of business. I talked with him before I took it. I wanted to be sure he was not hurt. He understood I needed to make some money. The $4000.00 I made with Silversmoke Kennel was all gone, spent on plain living, and winter coats and clothes for all the kids. I was too busy with high school to breed Lisa yet again, so I had to find something else.

I was put in the produce department, surrounded by all the fruits I had always craved: Peaches, pears, nectarines, apricots, grapes, cherries. The evenings I worked I stayed at 544.

Another event when I was fourteen stayed with me. I was at the movies and the show was Anastasia starring Yul Brynner. I couldn’t take my eyes off Yul: Striding around in his black outfits, his high black riding boots, proudly bald in a time when baldness was considered unattractive. Then, halfway through the movie, I felt a strange tingle travel all through my body. What was it? It was a delightful feeling. I watched Yul intently. I had the feeling again. Then I figured it out: It was sexual attraction! I had never felt sexual attraction before and this feeling was a revelation. It was a long, long time before I felt it again.

I was still in a special advanced class in Grades Ten and Eleven. History was exhilarating. We were supposed to be studying Canadian history—for the umpteenth time. What lifted the boredom were our political discussions. Our teacher (I can’t remember her name) encouraged this debate which raged every period of history. The class rushed through the material we were being taught to get to the exciting part: The big political debate.

The debate boiled down to two people battling it out. Sheldon Gilbert was a Conservative and I was a CCFer—the socialist party. Sheldon and I tackled the issues of the day, from very different points of view. (I got interested in socialism because of Father’s affiliation with the party. Alert: This was socialism not communism—the CCF brand of socialism allows for capitalism.)

Science with Mr. Gayoski continued to be spellbinding. We studied chemistry and physics. Chemistry was okay but physics was riveting, even though it was too early for quantum mechanics and quantum physics—I would learn about these later from readings I did on my own. English meant Shakespeare. Yea! Art, of course, was great—even when it meant drawing pleats.

Somehow I met a boy who lived on Wiley Street. His name was Rocco and he was sort of average cute, black hair, brown eyes, swarthy complexion, not exceptional. We began to date and soon we were going out every weekend in his 1950ish black Ford. He was Italian so my family wasn’t happy about that. He was out at the farm with me on one occasion and it came out that in Italy he’d trained as an upholsterer. By now Father had some pull at his work. They needed an upholsterer. Father invited Rocco to come in and demonstrate his skill. Father said all he asked Rocco to do was to sew a straight line. He could and did. Rocco was hired.

Mostly we went to the Drive-Inn Theatre. I think we did a fair amount of necking, but I have no clear memories of that. We’d dated a couple of months and one night he drove me home to the farm. We sat in the dark car, kissing. Suddenly, somehow, he turned me around so my back was to him. He jerked down my pants and before I could even react something hard was shoved into me, painfully. I struggled but he held me firmly. There was a piercing pain and then a pop! and he pushed even further into me. Then it was over. It took me a few moments to figure out that he had just taken my virginity. I was furious. My virginity was mine! Mine to choose who to partner with. After everything I had gone through with Father, he had never done that. Rocco—You bastard! I scrambled from the car, fumbling to pull my pants up, and ran into the house. 

Intercity Drive-In, Thunder Bay

I sat on the toilet and saw blood. He had raped me. I was only fifteen. I cried for a long time. I was so ashamed I never, ever told anyone and I never went out with that creep again.