THIRTY DAYS, THIRTY YEARS, THIRTY BORING STORIES...
My Eighth Year (7 years old)
October 2nd, 1981, to October 1st, 1982
(By the way, don't forget to read yesterday's installment, which was delayed because Blogger wasn't working properly yesterday evening, otherwise, you'll miss my UFO story.)
Now that I was living in Pincourt, I had to start off fresh in a new school, Edgewater elementary school, mostly with kids that had known each other for at least a year. I was in Grade 1, Room 3, and my main teacher for most subjects was Ms. Guilbault, though I also had a French teacher, Mr. Lessard, a music teacher, Ms. Brenda (?), and a phys-ed teacher, Mr. Bulow (my P.E. teacher through all of elementary school). Our principal was Mr. Morgan, and we had assembly in the gym each Monday morning, an assembly which included, and this would be unthinkable today in a Quebec public school but it was fine at the time, singing a few Christian hymns from a hymnal and then saying the Lord's Prayer. I think the hymn Mr. Morgan preferred, at least of those we sung, was "God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall". You have to keep in mind that, back when I was a kid, Quebec public schools actually were still organized according to religion, Catholic and Protestant, rather than by language like they are today.
I don't remember that much about Ms. Guilbault's class; I think my most distinctive memory was that the class was unofficially divided according to which book series we were assigned in English class. Those of us precocious readers ("the smart kids"), got Surprise, Surprise, a book about some kids doing... things... I forget. The slow readers ("the dumb kids") got a series called Mr. Mugs, a series about a dog, I think it was a sheepdog. There was a third intermediate-level book series, but I don't remember what it was called. I know, from an adult perspective, especially as an adult who has, in fact, studied basic developmental psychology, that "the dumb kids" is absolutely not a fair assessment, since kids develop at different speeds, but that's the way I thought of them at that age and, in the early years of elementary school, I was one of the smartest kids in the grade, so I was a little cocky in that regard. I didn't ever actually call them that to their faces, of course, I just kept my opinion to myself.
Another thing I liked was Sun-Maid Raisins, you know, in the little red box with the picture of the young woman with the grapes in the yellow circle representing the sun. The box is so iconic, I don't think I need to put a picture of it up here, but, for those of you who are completely clueless, see the logo on their corporate site. I had one little box each day for recess, and, over the course of a school year, that adds up to about 180 boxes. I didn't toss the empty boxes out, I kept them inside my desk, and made little cities. I think there may have also been an empty carton or two of "Lait École" school milk in there too. After a while, I noticed everything I put in my desk began to smell a little rank. I couldn't figure out why. (I think Ms. Guilbault made me clean out my desk eventually, but not for a long time.)
I was also obsessed with Ms. Guilbault's marks for "correct". You see, instead of checkmarks, she did this letter thing that looked like it was a "G" for "Good" but also a "C" for "Correct. For whatever reason, I attempted to draw it myself, and would do it over and over hundreds of time, never getting it correct, always making it too curvy. Since I suck at describing it, I made a stupid diagram so you can see what I'm talking about, if you're a glutton for knowing inane, picayune, small details of my childhood, but, if you weren't, you wouldn't have made it this far. :)
I don't remember much about Mr. Lessard, other than he usually wore a blue or purple pullover with yellow arms, and we sung songs like "Les Animaux de ma Maison" and... nope, nothing. I frankly don't even remember how much of the actual French I understood. Ms. Brenda, which I'm not sure was her last name, it might have been her first name, had a kissy monkey doll, and I remember more about the doll than I do the actual music. Mr. Bulow was great, but I had him for seven years and don't remember too much of what we did in the first year, though I remember, at some point within the first few years, he taught us the Mexican Hat Dance, we played some game under a giant canvas "parachute", and there was an imagination game of some sort called "Charlie Balloon". And I think, for activities requiring music, he played Juice Newton's "Queen of Hearts" a lot, though I'm not 100% sure about the accuracy of that memory because so did my father at home.
Also, I continued with my physical therapy by leaving class on, I think, Tuesdays and Thursdays for half-an-hour or so to work with these two women who did exercises with me in the Edgewater cafeteria. All I really remember was that I got a sticker every week, including many of old cars, which I liked in a big way. Although I think I had a much stronger British accent than Nick did, since Nick wasn't quite a year old when we came to Canada, I didn't get sent to speech therapy but Nick did.
I never could make friends too easy, being shy and somewhat of a loner (probably what you'd call "Asperger's Syndrome" these days), but Chris R. made the best effort to get close to me in my early years and I went over to his house many times and we... umm... listened to Hall and Oates as well as Sheena Easton? Again, I don't know if it's just my brain mixing up memories, but my early memories of Chris are intertwined with the songs "Private Eyes" and "Morning Train". Another song I really liked back then was Dolly Parton's "9 to 5", which, when my mother went to a laundromat in Ile Perrot to do washing, I would always play on the jukebox. (That laundromat also had pinball machines, so laundry day was fun for me.)
Also, I had another kiddy "girlfriend", Jennifer H., who was from Barbados, but I think she was white. Possibly she was mulatto, come to think of it, but, if she was mulatto, she had blonde hair. I had a "birthday" party in 1981, though it was actually held closer to Hallowe'en, and we had a bunch of people over and we actually kissed. Ooh. And that was my last kiss with a girl who isn't a relative. Jennifer was in a different class in grade 2, and, after that, I think she moved away from Vaudreuil, where she lived. :(
Nick and I were also friends with Ricky B., the youngest of three boys who lived across the street. I have a little to say about Ricky, but I'll save it for another entry where it would be more relevant. Ricky's oldest brother, Robby, was very anti-social, and, as as a young kid who lived very close to him (and took the same school bus), I was an easy and obvious target for his anger, and he routinely beat me up on the bus, sometimes assisted by a couple of other neighbour kids that, in retrospect, probably didn't really have much against me but were following what Robby told them to do out of fear. My father tried setting him straight once by paying him to mow our lawn, but he only did about half of it before quitting, though my father paid him anyway so that he wouldn't do anything to our house, though, eventually, he did, writing "Sit on It" in liquid paper or white paint on the side of our house, which was there for many years until we renovated our house in 1997 and covered that wall with siding. Also, this one time, I think when we barely knew him, we invited him into our house and several items from my father's Rubik's Cube collection (various variants, official and unofficial) went missing. In later years, Robby and his allies would wear denim jackets with "The FALCONS" written on back, and me and Nick would invent lurid tales of the Falcons' giant headquarters "fort" in the woods, surrounded by a moat, but, in retrospect, probably the only thing that "gang" had was their jackets and a couple of packs of cigarettes. I remember being at Cubs at Edgewater one evening and Robby was making out with his girlfriend, who I think he called "Dee Dee" or something, in the playground and being an asshole to us Cubs, who were supposed to be there. Another time, when he was in his young teens, he held a knife to his father's throat and I think the police had to talk him out of slicing. Eventually, that family moved, I think to Oshawa, Ontario, and, Robby supposedly got into some sort of accident that game him some brian damage and actually made him nice. I don't know how much of that is true. If you are reading this after I'm finished the whole month and want to trace why I started to dislike school and procrastinate and get "sick" so often, I think fear of Robby was the initial instigator.
"Lame segue leading to a jumbled, meandering paragraph" time... speaking of troubled teenagers, this was the era of Pac-Man fever, so the local shopping centre here in Pincourt (then called "Centre d'Achats Ile-Perrot", though now it's "Le Faubourg de l'Ile") had an arcade, located roughly where Librarie Boyer is now, only it was a grimy place full of "bad influences", and admission was limited to people over 14, if I remember correctly. The place was closed down by 1983 or so, probably because of open drug dealing. What I'm getting at is that I didn't have much of a chance to play the "classic" videogames, at least during the first era. We had one of those Radio Shack Pong clones and that was about it. I never got an Atari or an Intellivision, and we didn't have a home computer back then. So, my experience with videogames back then was pretty much limited to the following: Videotron, the only cable company serving my area, used to have, on Cable 33, this one channel where, in the daytime, they showed children's programming, mostly dialogue-and-copyright-free eastern European cartoons like "Peter", this series about a kid with orange hair and glasses and a dog and they came up with wacky inventions (hmm... sounds suspiciously like Mr. Peabody and Sherman, only the dog didn't talk though neither did the boy), and also National Film Board shorts in both official languages like "Les Tacos"/"Soapbox Derby" (the one set in Montreal where I remember the kids having a party where they passed around cigarettes and orange Crush, and this one kid peed on a fence, and there was a soapbox race somewhere) and a few old reruns of French-language educational shows from the 1970s like Les Oraliens. This was about the closest thing we had to YTV on cable in Montreal in those days, and it was only local. What does this have to do with videogames? Well, in the off hours, they had these videogames that people would call in and play with their touchtone phones... there would be a screen with a bunch of text and a phone number you would call and you'd hear the person calling in talk to the guy running the games and then you'd see the game as controlled by the caller. I remember that we would be fascinated by this one game, which was a rip-off of the old arcade games Defender, with a spaceship flying over a landscape, and Gorf, with an orange floating monster who would show up sometimes. Even though this had graphics that probably made Super Mario Brothers seem like, maybe, Sonic & Knuckles in comparison, we'd watch this games being played for extended periods of time because we weren't used to videogames. We were very easily amused.
My mother also let us stay up a little later, maybe as late as 9 p.m. some nights, and let us watch some non-kids shows on PBS, like Cosmos and The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. Safe entertainment for kids, right? No! Carl Sagan talking about what will happen to the sun and the universe from a total athiest scientist perspective was pretty depressing stuff for a 7 year old (and still frightens me, thinking of a cold void with no solid matter and no hope), and I didn't realize that the Vogons, who demolish the Earth in the first episode, weren't meant to be taken too seriously as alien monsters, and, after seeing the show, I read the book version, and it said that the attack came on a Thursday, so, each Thursday, I was a bit afraid that the Vogons would zap us all. My mother liked listening to the Cosmos soundtrack, largely by Vangelis, who also did the Chariots of Fire theme.
Speaking of my mother, the autumn of 1981 was the only time the Expos ever made it to post-season play as division champions, due to an abbreviated season because of a strike, so my mother became a baseball fan listening to the National League finals, which the Expos lost on Blue Monday, October 19th, 1981. And, speaking of sports, this was one of the years I tried soccer, but I really didn't understand what was going on. I also went to English-language daycamp over at Shamrock Park that summer, and horrified one of the counsellors by telling her how much Coca-Cola I liked to drink; she told me it would rot my teeth and my stomache... pphh, right.
I'd say I don't have anything else to say, but the truth is the opposite. But I've said enough for an overview of my life as a seven year old.
My favourite movie released between October 2nd, 1981, and October 1st, 1982?
Kind of a "meh" year.
I could never get into Conan the Barbarian, Blade Runner, or The Dark Crystal, while TRON is just crap with innovative graphics, and I've kind of gone off E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (even before Steven Spielberg tried to re-imagine his own film by deleting the terrorist references, changing the guns to walkie-talkies, and made E.T.'s puppet face too expressive).
I guess, for the sake of naming something,
But Wrath of Khan isn't even my favourite Star Trek film, First Contact is, and, for Trek films with the original cast, I like The Voyage Home best.
One film I hated as a kid but which has kind of grown on me is Annie, and... I can't think of anything else.