Tag Archives: childhood

Turner 8

Turner 8 – 1471. That’s the way we used to say it over 50 years ago. It’s a telephone number.

Turner 8

“Turner” was the exchange; a telephone number from Winnipeg. “Turner” was the exchange for the suburb of St. James. All my friends had 888 as the first part of their phone number. Everyone knew which part of the city you lived in when you rattled off your phone number.

triple eight – fourteen – seventy-one

It’s the phone number my mother had for over 65 years.


Then came the day when she could no longer hold a telephone. And her dementia prevented her from really enjoying the technology which once served her so well.

It was a day I cried.

Lee Jean Patches

You do stupid things when you’re a teenager. Hopefully those stupid things aren’t morally, legally or ethically wrong. Sometimes they are just silly!

When I was a teenager there was a really weird fad. Stealing Lee jean patches!

If you were fortunate enough to be able to afford them, the cool thing was wearing Levi jeans, or Lee’s. They had a leather patch sewn to the back.


The fad was (you may not believe this) we tried stealing other people’s patches. Literally sneaking up behind someone and grabbing the leather patch with your fingers and pulling it off. Some people cheated and by hand, reinforced the stitching on their patches with extra strong thread so they couldn’t be ripped off.

It was a prestigious thing to be able to say you stole so-and-so’s Lee patch. It was a fairly short-lived fad as I recall.

I’ve been cleaning out some old boxes and found my patch collection. I had written on the backs of each the names of the people, mostly guys, who I had ripped off. Literally!


Some of my girlfriends collected enough that they sewed them together to make a belt.

Such a stupid fad. Anybody else remember this 1970’s craze or was it solely a Manitoba phenom?


Mrs. Borody

My BFF from childhood, her mother died yesterday.

The house where I grew up on a quiet suburb of Winnipeg was surrounded by Borodys. Literally.

On the south side was by best friend Carol-Ann and her mum, dad, brothers and a dog, Binks. And on the north side of our house was her grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Borody, Senior.

Ev & CarolAnn snowballs

Pink Borody Senior’s House, my house, Borody’s house

Our front lawn was a path from the one house to the other. Which proved to be an interesting dynamic. Like the time when one Borody adult was chasing one Borody child across our lawn with “The Board of Education”.

Two families growing up, side by side, for years.

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Borody

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Borody

Leaning over the fence between our driveway and Carol-Ann’s house, our mothers would gab for hours. The regular kind of stuff that new moms share. I can imagine the joy, “I’m pregnant again!” “Oh my, so am I!”. The two mothers birthing one after the other. Within a couple of months, my older brother and hers, my middle brother and hers, and then we two, born within 3 weeks of each other.

Carol Ann & Ev

1964 Brownies

1964 Brownies


Mrs. Borody was so different from my mother. Didn’t your friend’s mothers always seem cooler than your own mother?

I thought Mrs. Borody had more fashionable clothes. She played Bridge. Didn’t she cook more interesting food? She played golf and travelled. They had liquor in their house, my folks were tea-totlers. Their house was nicer than ours, and a full two-storey.

145 River oaks drAND, (this is the one thing that totally proved it) she had a white Ericofon phone in their master bedroom! I used to try to sneak in there just to touch it.

ericofon phone

But I was totally scared of her. She spoke with a forthrightness that wasn’t normal in my family. She was part of that “Mothers Who Know Everything” club. Even until a couple of years ago we would laugh about that time when she caught Carol-Ann and I buying too much candy at Parkview Drugs across Portage Avenue.

1961, River Oaks Drive kids

1961, River Oaks Drive kids

Mrs. Borody was the consummate neighbour, the kind of neighbour everyone wants and needs. Who else would have been there at 6AM when we needed someone to take a picture of our family leaving on our monumental journey to live in California?

leaving for CA 1964

Mrs. Borody Sr, in pink

Our mothers rescued each other more than once for many things, like water leaks, Hallowe’en costumes, borrowing an egg, and boosting the car in winter.

Births and deaths. Tears were shed. Shoulders were there.

Mrs. Borody graciously hosted a neighbourhood bridal shower for my older brother’s bride-elect. Her own son Richard, the same age as my older brother, was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident when they were both 18 years old. How bittersweet for her.

Doug BD 1957

1957, Richard and Dougie

I will never forget that summer day. The day Carol-Ann’s brother died.

Richard and Doug, two lifelong friends separated forever. How Mrs. Borody bore that grief was an education to me at age 12.

My whole life Mrs. Borody has remained a touchstone to my roots. I would enjoy getting my mom and her together long after they had both moved away from the old St. James neighbourhood.

Then when Parkinsons-like of symptoms robbed Mrs. Borody of her vitality a number of years ago I saw her decline from a stately woman of tremendous will and forebearing to a helpless shell who could no longer speak. It was tough to witness.

But her eyes still shone with remembrance.

I could never bring myself to call her Helen. It was always “Mrs. Borody”.

Maxine & Helen, 2009

Mrs. Ward & Mrs. Borody, 2009

Rest in peace Mrs. Borody.

Helen Borody, nee Bajurny (1926 – 2013)

Fancy Sandwiches

When I was a kid I loved when my mother had to take fancy sandwiches to the church for some function or another, mostly funerals.

fancy sandwiches

photo dennasideas.com

First, days in advance, she had to special order the bread, an LARGE unsliced loaf. Then have them put it through the mechanical slicer sideways.


photo dennasideas.com

 Then she cut off all the crusts (I used to eat those).


photo dennasideas.com

Then she spread wonderful fillings which you wouldn’t normally use for everyday eating, like cream cheese and maraschinosmaraschino cherries. Roll up the bread into rolls, store in Saran Wrap and refrigerate. She would take these rolls to the church where the ladies would slice and arrange them beautifully on platters.

Sometimes my mother would ask the baker to dye the bread pink or something, for a bridal shower luncheon.

I always so wished there would be leftovers to bring home so I could take fancy sandwiches to school in my lunch pail!breadI saw this product in the store today.  It’s just plain white bread sliced sideways. It reminded me of my childhood.

Someone got smart! And of course, they charge an arm and a leg for it.

Here is the method to make fancy rolled sandwiches for your next special event.

Hymnody and Theology

I still have enough skill on the piano to at least play hymns. Unless they are in 5 sharps or flats. Forget that.

piano playing

To pass the time in a personal care home I spent an hour playing a lovely Clavinova for my mother. The playing of hymns I hoped would spark some recognition in her memory. Page after page I found old Baptist classics; Jesus, Wondrous SaviourAll Things Bright and Beautiful, Just As I Am, When Morning Gilds the Skies, Can I Little Child Like Me, Jesus Bids Us Shine.

One of the keyboard buttons made the instrument sound like a huge pipe organ.  Immediately I was transported back to my home church where Sunday after Sunday I was lucky enough to listen to the most amazing organist.

Music embeds ideas into young brains. I reminisced silently about the theology enshrined in those old hymns. Some of them grand and expansive, like Immortal, Invisible, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee. Some which exude the love of the Divine Presence, like God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall. And then I ran across this one:

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 3.42.17 PM
It had four other verses:

Oh be careful little eyes
Oh be careful little mouths
Oh be careful little ears
Oh be careful little hands

That just about covered every body part. And sitting there as a little girl in my Sunday best on that big wooden pew that message just didn’t jive then nor does it now. A Heavenly Father glaring at me every second with a judgement rod, more like. I realize that all those hymns kept reinforcing this exterior being always ‘out there’ who was quick to pronounce eternal damnation.

It’s amazing how music can affect you.

Recently I attended an evangelical worship service which is not my norm. The music was led by, what is now termed, a ‘praise band’. And the lyrics glow from an overhead screen above. The songs are impossible to grasp. They are not written for congregational singing at all, but for trained performers. The theology is half baked, at best. Mostly self-centred crap and completely unmemorable tunes. Soap box.

There is something to be said for the musicality of the ancient hymnwriter, the singability of tried and true tunes (sometimes lifted from secular songs and saloons). But my choice is simple singable chants from the ecumenical Taize community in France. “Singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God.”

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Music: J. Berthier
Copyright Ateliers et Presses de Taize.


The Taize movement has profoundly affected my music. I invite you to listen to more Taize chants and sing along.