Our Family Scrapbook

Angie takes me on a trip down Memory Lane

When I was a kid, living with my parents, we moved to a new house 28 times between when I was born and when I turned 18. One year, I went to three different schools. I think my dad was restless because my mom wanted to stay in one place.

One day, Angie took me on a drive around Ottawa to see all the places I had lived. We called it “A Trip Down Memory Lane.” We started at 321 and 323 Somerset Street East in Sandy Hill where my grandparents lived in the unit next door ours. In my parents’ unit, we had the downstairs: a bedroom, living room, and kitchen. My brother and I slept on sofas in the living room. Upstairs, there were three bedrooms and a bathroom. Two young nurses lived in one of the bedrooms, and Mrs. Holmes and her daughter Gracie lived in another. They also had a second bedroom which they shared for sleeping. The seven of us shared the bathroom.

When I lived there, the building was red brick. You can’t see the two front doors hidden by the big bush. We didn’t have a backyard, so my playground was that little sidewalk. We used to sit on the porch steps at night after our bath. I was happy and didn’t know we were poor.

While were in Sandy Hill, I showed Angie the house where my dad was born (January 7, 1929) and lived with his parents until he married my mom on March 12, 1948. It was a tall and very skinny house with three floors. It was just a kiddy corner from 343 Somerset, so Mom married her childhood sweetheart. Dad told me lots of funny stories about his childhood, but I’ll save those for another story.

Next, we drove a few blocks to Chapel Street, where my grandparents moved to in about 1960. I remember lots of fun kitchen parties in that house, with my grandfather playing the mouth organ, my grandmother doing the Irish Jig, and the rest of us singing.

Next, we drove by 570 Cumberland Street, also in Sandy Hill, kiddy corner from the University of Ottawa. When I lived there, there were no big windows. It looked like a house, with a front porch on one side and bay windows on the other. We lived in the back, two floors up, overlooking the alley. It was the tiniest place you could imagine. There was a room at the back off of my parents’ room where my brother and I slept in bunk beds. It was about the size of a walk-in closet. We lived there until I was 10 in 1958.

The highlight of the day for me was visiting the Rideau Street Library, the first library I ever visited. My dad took me there one day and got me a library card, and then I could go by myself.

I was about eight years old the first time I went to the library by myself. I walked down Cumberland Street to Rideau Street and all the way to the library. The first book I ever borrowed was an oversized copy of Alice in Wonderland.

What a wonderful memory. What a wonderful day! Thank you, Angie!

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