Friday, May 22, 2015

A Friday Chat ( about this & that )

If you think I'm a little strange now ( and if you think I'm very strange just don't say it ok? ) you should have known me as a little girl !

Be warned - I'm feeling very chatty today .................

I had a baby cousin who I fell desperately in love with the moment she was born.
I remember she was only about a week old and she smiled at me !
Everyone told me it was only gas...................which was very confusing to me - did the baby think having gas was funny?
So for a long time - probably up until the baby was a year old - every time she laughed - I'd say
" oh look - I gave the baby gas "
Which would cause all of the adults to roar with laughter
( we were a very gassy family I suppose - because there was always lots of laughter )

Another cousin and I used to sit on the stoop and talk jibberish.
Sometimes for hours -
We could be playing with our barbies - or having a game of jacks - sometimes we'd just be lazily leaning against the posts reading comic books - but if adults would walk by - we'd quickly become animated and start talking what we called " Spanish " very loudly. ( basically speaking in tongues )
We'd always end it with an English sentence so that they'd know we were bilingual.
They'd look up startled as they walked by - which we took to mean that they were extremely impressed.

Until one day a man came strolling down the street - stopped in front of the stoop and replied in kind.
We ran in the house screaming and peaked through the curtain of the locked door - to see him chuckling as he kept walking.

" La googa vetra topo as meeteni " - we both agreed
( translation - that man was a weirdo )

I had an Uncle ( Nana Sweatman's brother - you can read about my 2 Grandmother's here) who used to try to steal my " nose " when I was young.
He was a big man whose belly would rest on my Grandmother's kitchen chair - and which would shake with laughter as he roared in a big booming kind of way.
( he was a bus driver and kind of looked like Ralph Cramden )
I never walked by him - I always scurried past.
He terrified me - because he always tried to steal my nose - and when he was able to do it - he'd walk around showing it to everyone -  ( his thumb between 2 fingers.) while I sat in horror clutching my face.
One day I walked in and sat at the table and tried to look completely nonchalant

My grandmother turned around from the sink - Did you cut yourself? she asked
" uh uh " I shook my head
But I remember my Uncle laughing in the loudest voice I'd ever heard.............
I don't know why - I'm 100% certain I wasn't the only little girl who protected herself around him by putting 2 bandaids criss crossed over her nose for security.

I can remember having to take a cod liver oil pill every morning.....................
I don't know how my Mother had the stamina to go through the ritual - because here's how it went
I'd be jumping up and down on the bed - screaming and crying - while she tried to insert it into my mouth.
My head would be whipping back and forth like a feral animal but somehow she'd get it in there.
Every. Morning.
Except one morning in the midst of all the chaos the pill must have fallen out of her hands ( unbeknownst to her ) She mistakenly thought I'd swallowed it.
" There " she said
" Why do you make it so difficult ? " she asked - as I sidled my foot past to where it landed on the sheets.
I can remember it feeling like such a victory.
One for little girls all over the planet -
I felt emboldened - and all powerful when I left for school that morning ( with my Chatty Cathy in my school bag )
And for some odd reason I never fought it after that day.

Why on earth, you may be wondering, would I be putting Chatty Cathy in my school bag?
Well that was back in the day when we carried leather school bags................and when they were new they were stiff as a board and I wanted it to look fuller and softer - so she got crammed into it every morning to fill it out.
These were the types of things that were very important in my world.
Unlike my girlfriend many years later who would stuff as much crap as she could into her first briefcase for her first job.
None of it was work related.
I used to tease her that it was so that she'd look like an important business woman - which she always denied.
And who was I to talk?
I replaced Chatty Cathy with a curling iron and a blow dryer in my first working briefcase................just in case.

I wore white socks to school every day - with a white blouse and a box necked pleated tunic -
W.H.I.T.E. knee socks.
One day my Mother put a pair of navy blue kneed socks on the bed with my outfit.
I went crazy.
We had no idea what O.C.D. was back then - but man oh man was I a prime example of what it was.
( or just very spoiled - the jury is still out on that one )
We fought for a half an hour over those navy blue socks................with my Mother telling me I was just too
" big " to be carrying on like that - most of my friends wore navy blue socks - it went with the tunic better -
Yaddy yadda ...............
That morning as I very frustratingly shoved Chatty into my school bag I also tossed a pair of white socks in with her.
By the time I got off the school bus and lit my first Popeye cigarette of the day - everything was back to normal in my world.
To this day I only wear white socks.

This was the tunic I wore to school ( except it was very deep blue - almost black )


But the " big " girls got to wear V necked - fitted tunics - with sashes instead of belts - and the sashes had tassles !
I waited and waited until the year I would be old enough to wear the " pretty " one - but that was the year they abolished tunics in our school.
I felt ripped off the entire year.
I still do.
Some injustices last a life time.
It may be the reason I'm inexplicably drawn to tassels as well.

We had a teacher in grade 3 ( very ironically she dated one of my Uncles - there were 8 in my Mother's family ) who used to smoke in the classroom - and when the principal would come by she'd quickly rest the cigarette on the chalk holder under the blackboard -
I'd watch in fascination as the smoke drifted up towards the fire bell - my heart thumping in terror - as she stood at the door talking to him.

One day I got in trouble from Miss Cathy for talking during " quiet time "
She kept me for a moment or two after class - to explain that I had broken the rules.

" But Miss Cathy " I replied " everyone breaks rules sometimes "
" Well yes they do " she answered " But it's my job to teach you how not to do that "
I glanced over at the chalkboard and let my eyes rest on the chalk holder...............
" You can go now " she sighed.
She knew
and I knew
that talking in class wasn't nearly as terrible a " broken rule " as smoking in a classroom was.
Another powerful moment there folks.


I went to St. Kevin's school.
Which was just down the street from St. Kevin's Church
Both were very integrated - if you attended the school - you attended the Church - often even during school hours.
Going to confession terrified me.
More than words can explain ( but I will tell you that I have not stepped into one in over 40 years because of it )
Some things are so wrong with the Catholic Church ( well we now know just how terrible the Roman  Catholic church could be )
To put a child into a little dark room - and have a man all dressed in black - slide a screen over so that you could start telling him how bad you've been - every single Sunday - is a horrible thing to do.  ( just my humble opinion )
Anyway this was my " speech "
It never wavered.

" Forgive me Father, for I have sinned, it's been 7 days since my last confession "
" Proceed child " the Priest would reply
" I TALKED BACK TO MY MOTHER - I FOUGHT WITH MY BROTHER - I STOLE AN APPLE " I'd quickly say it - all in one breath- and he'd tell me how many Hail Mary's and Our Father's I'd have to say to start the new week fresh and sin free.

I ALWAYS added an extra Our Father for lying to the Priest - I had never stolen an apple in my life.

One week - as I was rushing out my sins to get out of there as quickly as I could, the priest said
" Do you steal an apple every week, child ? "
Yes Father, I replied.
But this lie was getting bigger than my little soul could carry - I kept thinking there would come a day when I'd have to confess that I'd been lying to him.
I came up with a plan instead - an easier one.
The next Sunday afternoon I stole a chocolate bar.
From the drug store on my way home.
I finally had a real confession to make the next week !  Plus I got a chocolate bar for free !  ( win/win )
" Where did you get that chocolate bar " my Mother asked?
" I STOLE it ! " I proudly answered
She marched me back to the pharmacy - where I had to give the lady the money for it - and confess what I'd done.

This was a bonus - I got to confess TWICE that week !!!

By now it was getting very complicated as you can see - and so the next Sunday when I " confessed " my sins the Priest gently sighed when I told him about stealing the chocolate bar.

Are you sure it wasn't an apple - the priest asked
Nope - I replied - It was a crunchie bar!!!

If my Mother hadn't nipped that right in the bud - that Priest may have turned me into a life time criminal !

Now the story gets really interesting.
The Priest was a family friend ( or maybe he was just a Priest who visited often - I'm not sure ) but he was at my Grandmother's house a lot.

Isn't everything you say to a Priest supposed to stay within the confines of that black box?

For some reason bowls of apples started appearing on our kitchen table daily - something my Mother had never done before.

" Why are you buying so many apples Mom? " I questioned her
" A little bird told me you love them Susie "

Hmmmm................I asked her many years later if the Priest had told her what I confessed - but she always denied it.

Regardless - there was an apple in my lunch box forever after.

Of all the fruits in the world - the apple is my least favorite.
And all my " confessing " is done in private.

Ash Wednesday was always a thrill.
As I mentioned above, the Church was down the street from our school.
We'd line up to have the little cross of ashes on our forehead ( for some reason this was a highlight of our year - something that caused great excitement in our little worlds )
We were always segregated by sex.............little girls go this way - little boys go that way.
One year we were all walking side by side ( the girls )- two by two - in our little tunics - headed for the Church and we saw 2 delivery men bringing a big box into the side door of the Church.
" It's Jesus in his coffin " one little girl whispered
And this spread like wildfire through the line - until we were all trembling and shaking and too afraid to walk into the Church.
Some little girls were trying to break free from the line while the Nuns tried to put order in our little
" Madeline's gone bad " line up -  but the damage had been done.
We slowly - very very slowly walked in to see the delivery men OPENING  Jesus' coffin - and all of a sudden there were at least 40 little girls screaming frantically - trying to run out of the Church at the same time.  Why we would be running away from Jesus leaves me a little baffled even to this day - religion was such a main force in our lives that you'd think we'd all have been running towards him.
But we didn't.
The Priest gently scolded the Nun's for allowing this to happen.
The new organ was unpacked and placed at the front of the Church while we had little crosses of ash placed on our foreheads................
I seem to remember the Priest trying not to laugh................but it might have been gas.

That little cross of ashes?
" Remember you are dust - and to dust you shall return "
or as I prefer to say " all we are is dust in the wind "
I can remember trying to make it last by adding fresh ashes from my Grandmother's ashtray.............
Until she caught me
What exactly are you doing Susie?
That's very dirty - don't do that - she admonished me
I was horrified - dirty?
No Nanny - it's not dirty - it represents Jesus !!!!!!!!!!!!
He doesn't live on the end of my cigarette - don't do it anymore -

and so I didn't ......................but I felt she was a bit of a heretic after that.

And on a side note I received this from my girlfriend who's boyfriend is Dutch - he's taken her to Holland quite a few times now............

Cindy - OMG - Bob & I have been invited to meet with the King and Queen of Holland at the end of the month here in Toronto - my name is on the invitation - holy crap 
Suzan - HOLY COW - I always knew you were royalty - what ARE you going to wear?
Suzan - John wants to know if you're inviting them over to your place for dessert LOL

Well !  This takes my lunch with John Malkovitch down a few notches I'd say LMHO
( my lunch with Mr. Malkovitch  HERE )

If by any chance - the Queen of England is reading this ( it's a remote chance but it's a chance none the less)
John and I are available most weekends..............
Send your Grandson and his wife in your place if you can't make it - that would be acceptable.
Thank you your most gracious majesty.

The other night I came across this post - a link party I participated in long ago - and nearly peed my pants.
Feel like peeing your pants?
And then check out the links - there aren't many of them - I swear to you they're the funniest things !
Just don't say I didn't warn you, k?

You all have the most wonderful of weekends,
Much love to you
From me


  1. Oh, how funny - a teacher smoking in the classroom?? Sounds about right for the Catholic school, hahaha.Our uniforms looked a lot like yours, only maroon plaid. High school uniforms were much better, white blouses, navy plaid skirts (short!), pintucked (by me) down to the hip, and the knee socks became our distinguishing, signature looks (for me, toe socks and platform, open toe shoes - oh, Lordy). Confession - pure torture, makes me feel like I need to take a BM just thinking about standing in that line! Chatty Cathy - mine had brown hair, just like me. :) And what's with the crazy uncle who steals the nose? I had one of those too!
    Well, Suzan, you may relate to my most recent post on religious relics of the past. Fun memories, glad we had this chat. :)

    1. Yes a teacher smoking in the classroom - and a Priest who smoked and drank whisky LMHO !!!
      My Chatty was a blondie ( like I was ).
      Just read your amazing post - thanks for letting me know about it !

  2. OMG - that Total Couture Tuesday cracked me up big time! Even my computer is laughing -- this screen is jiggling up and down, rather like a large unrestrained bosom does. I've NEVER seen that happen before. Happy Friday. I'm going to go do something useful now, like sweep up half a don of hazelnut shells from the patio...

  3. Oh my Suzan! I always get a kick ou of yur Friday posts! And, as a teacher, the thought of one smoking anywhere in the presence of students is amazing to me! Wow...times have changed...but in that case, for the better! Your childhood stories are so have such vivid memories! Have a wonderful weekend as I plan to! I have a 4-day weekend...Woo Hoo!

  4. Well Suzan, I've just finished laughing until tears ran down my face. Your are such a gas!!! Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-D This whole post is laugh-out-loud funny. When my husband and I grew up in North Carolina, there were very few Catholics in our area. I honestly don't believe I was acquainted with any Catholic families. Times have changed, and we have a large Catholic church right up the road from us and two or three Catholic schools in our town. After reading your post however, I feel like I missed out on a lot of fun times. ;)

    Have a great weekend!


    Denise at Forest Manor

  5. I have to laugh about you and your friend's made-up language ~ I still do that! And my best friend and I used to talk, loudly, about our parents' boats & yachts, and Rolls Royces, and jewelry, etc (none of which was true, of course) as we stalked the candy aisles of our nearby little store. We thought we were SUCH hot stuff!

    I had a Chatty Cathy doll, too!I don't ever remember taking it to school, though.

    Lovely post today ~ you look great as Carol Burnett! And Tony is MINE, do'ya hear?!?!?!

  6. Gotta admit just spent 45 minutes reading back posts, some for the second time, and thinking 'stop! Get up! Get back to painting one half wall and the other piece of furniture sitting in the kitchen, surrounded by chicken wire so the dogs won't 'help' by getting painted as well! Gosh that was one really long sentence, probably fumes from the texture crap sprayed on the half wall. Have brushed my teeth combed my hair, can't tell, and had cereal for my ever so fancy brunch and still staring at the accumulation of projects needed to be finished! So thanks indeed for a respite!xx

    1. Probably fumes from the texture crap LMHO !!!
      I seriously think my brain's been affected by paint.............
      I brushed my teeth - never bothered to comb my hair today - so you were one up on me !

  7. Did you have to wear "navy blue bloomers" and white teddy blouses for gym? I HATED them. I was lanky and bone thin. The teddy blouse always felt like it was cutting me in two, and my skinny chicken legs poked out of those darn bloomers like toothe picks. I was teased mercilessly. Gawd!!!! The things we had to endure. I wore the same dark navy tunic and white blouse as you, ALWAYS with white socks haha! High school was grey flannel skirt, white blouse, and navy blazer, but only for the first two years. How those skirts inched up higher with a couple of rolls of the waist band haha! Thanks for the memories Suzan! xxoo

    1. OMG Kim - I hated those freaking bloomers - we looked like a bunch of kids from the turn of the century in them LMHO !!! And we didn't have a proper gym in our school either - it wasn't deemed important enough - we jumped up and down basically doing jumping jacks for 30 minutes in those bloomers !
      In grade 5 my Mother put us in a protestant school - ( closer ) I remember being so excited to wear normal shorts!
      I was going to mention them and figured no one would know what I was talking about - I'm laughing my head off here!

  8. Once again your Friday chat has left me laughing openly at my I Pad, this of course is quite alarming to my husband, he just doesn't understand. You brought up so many memories of my own childhood, being raised Catholic myself your tale had me in stitches. I too remember trying to come up with some infractions to confess to the faceless man in the confessional each week. Seriously, what exactly did they expect children to confess??? I also remembering having to cover my head before entering the church, fasting before a very long mass and then kneeling a lot! It's amazing more of us didn't faint from low blood sugar. My parents were immigrants that were often sponsoring other relatives for citizenship so our house was always full of strange relatives parading through. I remember quite vividly a tenant scaring the crap out of us every chance he got by removing his artificial eye and popping it in his mouth. I believe he lostit in the war, I think i may have farmed better having my nose is amazing we survived our childhoods and are as normal as we are!

  9. I read this to anyone in my family that would listen--which meant some had to hear it twice., Even John (the old Catholic that he is/was) laughed his head off. Loved every moment of this read, Suzan...and now I am off to check out your links....wait---maybe I better go pee first. xo Diana

  10. I had a Chatty Cathy, too! Blonde. Like me.

    I remember my doctor smoking in the examining room!

    Catholic girls lived across the street. We didn't play with them often, but we "learned" a little bit about being Catholic. Most of it was confusing. Covering your head when you go into the church kind of amounted to the thin crocheted headband I wore to keep my hair out of my face. I guess it worked. Confirmation name: a name chosen by you and used in addition to your birth name. I still remember Julie Louise *Bernadette* {last name}. Confession: went right over my head. Mass: no clue, but I went one time at Christmas. I felt very sick to my stomach and warm because of all of the incense and people. My head hurt. Awful. I remember a little bit that they told us about their school: nuns. Rapping on the knuckles with a ruler, unless my imagination has taken over. Something called "demerits", and you got them if you misbehaved. Church/school. They called Arithmetic "Math", which was odd to me, and they covered their books with brown paper. They wore uniforms; we didn't. I remember the word "hades". I think they said that, because they weren't allowed to say hell. Neither were we. Also, there was a place called "limbo", which was a place babies went, although I don't remember why. Maybe they had to be there until they did something wrong, which would send them to hades, or until they did something good, and they would move on to heaven. Who knows what that lesson was all about. meat, but fish was OK. I still don't quite get that one. Maybe it's like give and inch, and they take a mile? Kneeling/sitting/standing. Quiet/praying/responding. Odd. School/church. They were Campfire Girls; we were Girl Scouts, which was better. We insisted. My two sisters and I thought that they thought that they were somehow more special just being Catholic. Now, I know they were just stuck-up and full of themselves for whatever reason.

  11. Oh my goodness, Suzan. You need to write a book. This post is so interesting and funny too. I really enjoyed it. I never had a Chatty Cathy but my best friend did. Her father worked at Eatons so she had a lot of things I didn't. But, when she got saddle shoes I persuaded my mother to get me some and she did. And white bucks too! Remember them? I remember wearing the navy tunics with 'navy' knee socks. We didn't have uniforms in public school. I also remember wearing knee socks with every dress or skirt until the end of grade 9 then I wore 'twister' socks' in white Keds or nylons or bright leotards. Someone above commented about navy bloomers. I remember wearing them under my dresses in winter to keep warm but only for a few years. We always wore beige leotards and, in winter, snow pants to keep us warm as we walked to school. I don't ever remember a teacher smoking in the classroom! Imagine that today. I grew up in a mixed neighbourhood but a lot of Catholics and French speaking people as there were 2 Catholic churches within 2 blocks. Our next door neighbours were French Catholic and went to that church, then others were English Catholic and went to the English speaking church. I remember every Saturday afternoon the people from up the street walking to church for 4:00 mass and the same on Sunday mornings. We drove a long way to our protestant church in the older part of town. The kids next door learned to speak English and became fluently bilingual while we learned French slang and school French that didn't stick with us. Funny about that. Loved this post. Brought back a flood of memories, although I never went to mass or Catholic church.


Due to a large amount of spam ( that I'm tired of going back to posts and deleting ) I'll be using comment moderation from now on !!!
Can I beat these spammers at their own game? Probably not - but I'm going
to try my damnedest !!!