Sense Memory

(two WWI houses: the childhood home (1955-1964), stripped of hedge and trees on right, garage added later)

(at the 100th anniversary of my Bannatyne elementary school with Hugh, my oldest friend; Hugh worked for Boeing in Winnipeg)


Feeling the cold air stream in through the bathroom window, and I am suddenly back visiting my parents’ old Portage Avenue walk-up in the late ’70s. They always used to prop their drop-down window with a stick to get summer air in their suite. That memory and the remembered taste of my Winnipeg water from a tap in August.

All making it feel like I could walk out of my bathroom this morning and into their suite with its maple colonial furniture and the braided rug my dad painstakingly took care of lying on the floor after he developed cancer. The experience much like a dissolve in Miller’s Death of a Salesman in which one scene from one time gives way to another, smoothly and effortlessly, connecting past and present.

Heading back to Winnipeg this September for the first time in several years. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, even now, I can still inhabit the childhood St. James memories and those of my high school days; walk into a given scene, knowing how many steps will take me to a particular place and memory. Much has changed, but there is enough that will be close and still very palpable–the apartment block we lived in across from the hotel, the senior high school grounds minus the school since the reunion, and a five block walk to the two streets which figured from grade 1 to grade 9–Wallasey Street (where our house still is) and Thompson Drive–my paper route for five years (when newspapers were delivered before suppertime).

Yes, all still there and accessible for the most part–where I was the key speaker at my elementary school’s 100th anniversary and where I attended my (now-gone; burned down) high school’s 50th anniversary in 2007. Despite the many intervening years and changes, something remains and lingers with an air of permanence about that boyhood and teenhood. This trip attending my high school’s monthly meeting at Silver Heights Restaurant with Dave and Hugh. That much continuity and permanence of a sort.

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