Clifton & girls

Wounded Vimy Ridge vet Clifton Kell treats his nieces to a ride on Xmas Day, 1936.

This year marks the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and that takes me back to a time when the shadow of the war was still a real presence in my grandmother’s house. She lived on a nice farm in Cookstown but there was something very wrong with the men in her life, except for my father. They were dead or else almost, like Uncle Clifton who had a patch over one eye and lay down all day because his head hurt.

Grandmother never smiled or ever gave any indication that she loved or enjoyed my sisters and me when we visited. She always wore black, looked very stern, didn’t seem to like my mother very much and caused my father to look her way as if to get approval for what he was doing. When she talked it sounded clipped, as if she was resigned to do her duty and accept her unhappy fate.

At least Grandmother seemed to be very attached to the company of heavily framed soldiers who occupied every spare inch of the walls, even going up and down the stairs.

The house was not too unhappy because of Aunt Mabel, her parrot Polly, and the dog, Towser. The minute we arrived we commanded Polly to “Call Towser”. She would screech out his name and whistle until he came bounding up to play with us. I’ll always love Collies and war relic parrots.

I was very little. In the above picture from Christmas Day 1936, Uncle Clifton had dragged himself up off the couch to take us for a ride in the cutter. I’m the one squished on the floor; my big sisters fared better.

Having researched and written a family memoir, I realize Grandma was depressed, although we didn’t know the word. What we did know was that it was a very good thing that the War to End All Wars had been won. Nothing less could justify her sad look and dismal behavior.

Thank you for visiting. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void,  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon,  Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

I’ll be at Britton’s Glebe, 846 Bank St., Ottawa on Sat., Aug. 9, 2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to honor the WWI 100th anniversary. Please drop in if you would like to chat and pick up a signed copy of my book.