I can still remember the long walk home from school. In my mind, I’m still climbing that little hill beside the sidewalk on Villeray street as I headed towards home. I remember passing by the little casse-croute that used to serve the greasiest french fries I’ve ever tasted. I’d walk along to Bruno Depanneur where, if I was lucky to have money, I’d buy me a pack of hockey cards for 8 cents and hoped to get a Ken Dryden card. I’d keep going along Villeray and pass by the nasty old curmudgeon of an old man who despised kids. I’d walk alongside the park where I’d play tennis against the wall and then hockey on weekends where I’d be the goalie because I was the smallest one there. I’d turn up on my street and head to the apartment where I lived. I would head up the stairs past my cousin’s downstairs apartment and continue towards mine. Mom would be there, glad to see me as always and usually with some tea and cookies waiting for me. I’d sit and watch Happy Days on TV and then do homework before supper.
I had many great teachers during my younger days and a few terrible ones. But the good ones are the ones I reflect fondly on. Miss Diane in grade one, who I thought liked me more than all the rest. At the end of the year she gave me a book called “My first Puppy” and I still have it. She encouraged me to read and to be confident in my abilities. There was Miss Flood in grade four who was full of vigor and brought great fun to the classroom. There was Mr. Guttilla in grade seven who had the unenviable task of teaching religion to this young atheist but who always had time for me and my musings.
Then there was Mr. Mcdonald, a kind, gentle, and well spoken man who had teaching in his soul. Not just a teacher but a man who always had time for me when most adults in my life at that time were giving me grief. He listened, he cared and just by doing that, he had such an impact on me.
Sometimes, I wish that these teachers were still there for me when I have doubts about things but such is life.
I recall the smell of an autumn day, just before some raindrops would fall. Funny what we remember isn’t it?
I don’t remember thinking then that I would eventually hold on to what was happening all those years ago. It all seemed so unimportant to a young boy walking home from school and hoping to drink some tea and have some cookies and get a hug from mom.
Tonight, I think I’ll take that book titled “My First Puppy” given to me by a teacher who cared and read it to my kids before bedtime and wonder what they will remember when they’re older.