Following on “I Digress …”, I’m going to continue, I think, to intersperse my photo focus with writing – short excerpts from the volumes I’ve written. Comments and feedback welcome.
Historical threads of the 1950’s wove a textured pattern into the fabric that was the backdrop to my childhood. This backdrop was a post-war world. Many returning soldiers had only been home for two or three years, and some were coming home to children they had never met. Families were separated through the years of war and sweethearts had their futures put on hold for more than half a decade. My parents were of the latter group – just 18 when the war broke out, they were 25 when they married on May 5, 1945.
Not just my father, but my uncles, and the fathers of all my friends were men who had served in the war. Dad returned in 1944 from his stint overseas, but I never met my mother’s brother Kenneth because he was one of those sacrificed; he was the brother and son that was lost. The war was part of our collective consciousness and its threads were stained with loss, anxiety, and deprivation. But Canada was still a fledgling country in 1949, populated with a mere 13 and a half million people. While Europe struggled to rebuild, post-war Canada entered an economic boom when jobs were plentiful and hopes were high. This optimistic atmosphere was balanced by the flood of immigrants fleeing the bombed out centres of Europe and England who arrived with a waste not, want not attitude and threads darned into their winter coats.
Then came the Cold War and an air raid siren was erected in our playground by the Clubhouse. Threats and counter-threats hurtled between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States and formed a nebulous red cloud under which we lived, the threads of growing anxiety carried on the wail of a test siren.
It was a time when the bread man delivered to the door and a quarter bought a comic book, a pop and a package of gum; when milk came in bottles and we left our empties on the front step with money in them, assured it would be there when the milkman delivered in the morning.
With these measures of uncertainty, anxiety, opportunity and hope as a backdrop, my childhood unfolded, weaving into the mosaic, threads coloured with learning, love and laughter, tinged with childhood apprehension.