When I was only five years old or so, back in the early 1960’s in Regina, Saskatchewan, my mother would help me pack a little plaid suitcase and walk with me up to Dewdney Avenue where we would wait for the #1 bus to take me to my grandma’s (mom’s mom) apartment for the weekend.
My mom would give the driver a nickel for my fare, tell him where to drop me off (and only if grandma was at the stop waiting for me) and I would be off on my great adventure.
The bus’s route took us through downtown, those gigantic buildings like the Hotel Saskatchewan that must be 10 stories high or so, and up towards the General Hospital. And there would be my grandma, waiting for me at the stop in front of her apartment building.
The photo above is what her apartment, The York Apartments, looked like I believe about ten years ago. While it looks quite charming, her apartment was not fancy. My grandma was in some ways a rather austere individual, a teetotaler who had survived the Great Depression in Saskatchewan raising a family of four. She was not given to frills or luxury.
But that was just how she lived. She had a very generous and vivacious spirit and an infectious laugh. She was an extremely kind individual, and kindness, I find, is often underrated. I looked forward to these excursions to her place with great anticipation.
Our first order of business always was to get me fish and chips and an Orange Crush from the Crescent Tea Room down the street, and then we were on for the weekend.
More than anything else that she did for me, she read to me. Not little children’s books, either. We read Longfellow, Shakespeare and I know it’s hard to believe, but also some Thackeray. She had a small library of leather-bound books which she would read to me from. I still have her Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
The inscription reads:
Wm. A. Hunter (my grandpa, who died before I was born)
Xmas 1914 with best wishes from Dad and Mother Arthur (my grandma’s maiden name).
Well, isn’t that something, that book is almost 100 years old.
We also played cribbage and canasta (a popular card game in the last century) and Go Fish and that memory game where you have to remember what the cards are to make pairs. Amazingly, I think I managed to win every game we ever played. I guess grandma wasn’t very good at cards.
Actually, come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever won a game of cribbage against her. Ever. Even when I was much older.
Simple as it may have been, her apartment was exotic to me, and those visits must have provided me with my first sense of independence from my own family.
There’s so much to say about grandma that I will come back to her story another time. I really just scanned in this photo to try out my new scanner. I posted it on Facebook and received a lot of comments and so here we are.
And then I found this little gem of me out front of the same building before its renovation. This photo was likely taken on one of my trips to her place. As you can see, I have always had interesting hair.
Thanks for reading!