"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Thursday 30 July 2015


My biggest cooking pot was employed last night. This morning I used it as a basin to wash the dishes instead of filling the sink. I have taken the foam off the top and the water will go on a patch of new sod that has turned brown. 

Life time habits are hard to break. The dish water was soapy when I was young  and  kept aphids of the roses. Still does. Dishes were routinely washed in a basin especially if water had to be heated in a kettle. 

The fishmonger, fruitmonger, coal man,milkman  baker and the man with kindling in neat little bundles tied up with string and  green fairy soap and paraffin for the little oil stove that cast light patterns on the ceiling. In a thrift store, I found a short one coloured blue enamel instead of black and it sits in my garden.  I'm not sure if I ever told anyone why it has pride of place. 

The pedlars came around the streets daily with horse and cart,crying their wares. One man, between the shafts, pulled a cart behind him calling  HERRING  ..FINE FRESH HERRING.

A Frenchman wearing a black beret got off the train and came around the streets  on a a bicycle with onions braided on a string of straw around his neck. Maybe he was Spanish,the onions were beautiful to look at.

The only car belonged to Pepini ,the son. He had an ice cream colored convertible with an ice cream freezer in the passenger space. He made the rounds on Sunday afternoon. People brought out bowls or jugs and bought tuppence worth of ice cream and a pennyworth of wafers.

The  beautiful car with a cheerful jingle for a horn was pushed into the harbour the night Fascist Mussolini joined the axis in the second world war. 

Italian families had to take refuge with friends while their homes and businesses were ransacked and belongings, even their clothes, were scattered and tossed  into the harbour and the river. It wasn't because they were fascists. It was because they were Catholic It was also because hooligans never need an excuse to be hooligans. 

Mrs Guzzelli whose shop was down near the shore was always crying. I don't think she was ever happy living in that cold and dreary place even before that night. There were days when the wind was so strong, it literally blew the river back up into the hills. The whitecaps were breaking in the wrong direction. 
The vandals waited in entry closes for the nine o'clock news as a signal to start the rampage. No guns or knives. Just big stiicks and a lot of pent-up envy. Italians kept to themselves .When their children grew up, somebody went to Italy to find spouses for them. The children were as Scottish as the rest of us but the culture was important and not to be mixed. It took a post war generation for that to change. 
Theresa Pieronni married Terry McGinn.

Propaganda is a powerful weapon during war. Harper's doing a number on us right now; like a war between Russia and Canada would be a brave new world. 

Back In the day, some  women carried bread knives in bags along with important family papers in case they came across a German parachuter. 

Windows had blackout curtains. Air raid wardens shouted abuse from the street and fines were imposed if a glint of light was allowed to escape.

Street name signs were removed. So that a stray German parachuter would not know where he was and wouldn't be able to find his way to wherever he happened to be going which might have been to sabotage the local munitions plant. We managed to do a pretty good job of that ourselves on occasion without help from the Germans. 

The only Germans we ever saw were prisoners-of-war working on farms. 

But I digress .

Horse dung was never allowed to stay long  on the road.  It was cleaned up immediately by whatever kid got there first. À coal shovel was goid for scooping  and the right size. Horse manure is especially good for roses .

Everybody had a  garden plot where rhubarb and  parsley and carrots and cabbage and kale and turnips  and sweet peas grew in neat rows. There was always a midden in a corner.

Grannie got her parsley from Mrs. Miller's garden and the Campbell's on the other side always had plenty of rhubarb. Rhubarb has to be pulled to flourish. I takes up a lot of space in the garden. It's called a rhubarb patch. Rhubarb with a poke of sugar was a treat. 

My sister or myself would be sent to ask for the rhubarb if my mother was baking tarts. And parsley when Grannie made soup which was most days. 

My grandmother had a small square of grass edged  with strip of garden with alternating crocuses and snowdrops blooming together in Spring.  A fence made from slats of butter barrels divided grass from the garden proper.

Roses flourished  but the most spectacular display was Gladiolii. People stopped in passing. They couldn't miss the amazing display of colour. Every day a fresh vase of the beautiful blooms were picked and brought indoors. 

Hyacinths were  forced in bowls in a dark press in the living room and every room in the house had a pot with a different coloured cluster. Room doors would be kept closed so the scent would be concentrated inside. A brown bowl with faded pink roses in the design hung from the ceiling above the kitchen sink with masses of pink and purple fuschia with long white stamens cascading over the sides. 

I've grown each and every one of the  flowers in my grandmother's garden at different times. But they never flourished as well as they did in the salt air and dampness and coal block soil under her care in that faraway place. 

The family name was Diamond.The main flower bed was shaped in a diamond and four beds around it with paths between  formed a square. The  backdrop was upended railway ties. Beyond that a signal box and wagons loaded with coal and lumber and bricks clanked together day and night in the railway switch yard.The railway station and steam engines with  brakes screeching metal against metal and bells and steam whistles as they came and went throughout the day were a prominent feature of every town. 

This post took off in its own direction this morning. 

It wasn't what I  intended when I opened the IPad. 

Have  a great day. 


Anonymous said...

Now that was even better than the flower photo.
I used to love glads. You can make an arrangement from a couple by breaking one into sections to contrast the height.
A " kindly " older neighbour asked why I always had a vase of " funeral flowers " on the kitchen window sill in season.
That took the glow from my gladiolas.
You have a great day too.

Anonymous said...

Did you write as a child and as you grew into young adulthood and then further into maturity and yet further into wisdom?

If the answer to part or all is yes, I would like to read your life.

Anonymous said...

Oh Evelyn. I read this post of yours at lunch time. My mind kept wandering all afternoon with beautiful images that described in your post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The crocuses were tough little customers. They would be sitting there bravely in the icy water melting around the flower beds.