Archive for September, 2012

Last night on TV…

You know that you are old when Justin Bieber sings live on TV and all the girls in the front row are like, crying and screaming, and he’s so incredibly boring, even though he has mastered the crotch grab and is like, really, really proud that he knows how to do that, and the song is boring, and I guess you have to be, like, 14 years old to “get” it, and I don’t care if, like, I never see him again.

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154 Hanna Rd., Leaside (the Bream home, 1941-1953)

In 1941, my mother Madeline Bream bought a house in Leaside, during the time that my father was away in the RCAF. She had a little money (possibly a bond or a small inheritance – I am not sure which) to put down on the house. The house was in the young but growing subdivision of Leaside, which was literally on the edge of town. (After moving in, Madeline was turned down by prospective cleaning ladies, who felt it was too far out of town to travel!) Mother paid $6000 for the house, and my grandpa Bream thought she had been robbed.
The street, Hanna Rd, was paved, but the cross street, Parkhurst Blvd, was not paved at the time we moved in. I remember the excitement when the dirt road was finally paved.

The same builder had built most of the houses on our side of the street, the west side. He built storey-and-half houses all up the west side of the block, but he also built one two-storey house, which was for his own family. After living there one year, he and his wife were ready to move on, and his home was the one that mother bought. (She was the purchaser because our father, Ted Bream, was overseas.)
Here is the house, photographed by Google, in 2009, looking much as it did when we lived in it, except the trees, which were saplings in 1941, are now mature. #154 is the house on the left in this photo. That’s the same lamppost we used as “home” in various street games, which we kids played incessantly on fine evenings. (Hide and Seek, Red Rover.)
The red-roofed house next to ours was owned by the Raysons, whose son John was a year ahead of me in school. His mother, Peggy Rayson, a gifted seamstress, made my wedding dress and all my bridesmaids’ dresses as well. By the time she was doing that for us, we had moved further north in Leaside to 19 Craig Crescent, a move which was made in 1953 to accommodate the advent of another child in our family…..my new sister Margaret.
Can you see the tiny ‘hill’ on our front lawn? It is next to those couple of steps in the front walk. Believe it or not, on that gentle little slope my brother Ken used to sled on wintry days when he was a little guy.  (He was only 1 year old  when we moved in.) Sledding there was almost a joke, because the little ‘hill’ was so small.
Alas, a tumble on that little slope one winter day caused him to be knocked about and his eye went askew. That was the very beginning of his eyesight problems. He was very young; this was some years before he contracted diabetes at age 10, and by then his eye was not working at all–just from this innocuous little sledding accident.

I have happy memories of 154 Hanna Rd. When we moved in, the household consisted of mother, Ken and me. Shortly thereafter, my Nana, Jean D. Smith, moved in with us. She stayed with us until her death in 1947. Ken and I shared a bedroom, and Nana had the second one, and the front bedroom was the parents’ room.
From this house I began my elementary school education, entering Grade 1 at Bessborough Public School, one block up the street. This school is still in operation today. I attended Bessborough from Gr.1 to 6. The school was overcrowded by the time I finished Gr. 6, and that summer the school board decided to move 30 of us over to Northlea Public School for Gr 7 and 8, to free up space at Bessborough. To compensate us for having to change schools, they gave us a great teacher and let him stay with us for both grades. His name was Larry Malloy, and we adored him.

Although 154 Hanna Rd  was a small house (I was shocked at how small the rooms were when I visited it later in my life when there was a real estate ‘open house’) it did not feel small to the kid I was back then. What was small was the back yard. I think #154 had the smallest lot on the street.
My memory of much of the interior is quite vague, but two rooms I do remember.
The dining room was so small that there was literally no room for any kind of buffet.
Grandpa Bream was a master carpenter and cabinet maker, and he decided to make my mother a built-in buffet. In short order he arrived with wood, his tools, and the inevitable envelope on which he would scrawl his calculations, and soon mother had a tidy built-in on one side of the room. Problem solved.
The other room I remember well is the (only) bathroom. Its window faced east directly towards the factories on Laird Drive. During the war years those factories were lit up like Christmas trees at night, because most of them operated 24 hours a day, producing goods for the war effort. On hot summer nights, if I got up to go to the bathroom in the wee small hours, its window would be open, and I could see the bright lights glittering at Canada Wire and Cable. The bathroom was tiled in black and white, and was relatively up to date for the times.  If it is unrenovated today, it would be ‘antique’
One last thing. I do remember that my parents finally decided to upgrade the kitchen, only to discover that mom was pregnant and that they needed a bigger house. So they sold and moved to Craig Crescent in North Leaside and Madeline did not get to enjoy her newly renovated kitchen.

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New video that I have made of life here at Revera Leaside.


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