Sunday started off as being a beautiful day. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. My girlfriend didn’t have to work until early in the afternoon so we got a chance to sleep in. But when she left for work, I left to my parent’s house. Later on in the day, I came down with a slight fever and started shivering even though it was twenty five degrees Celsius out. I started to bundle up but that only helped a little bit. I was cold on the inside and my body was trying to compensate by raising its temperature. Sometimes I felt like I was going to sweat but then seconds later I started shivering again. I decided to stay indoors until the fever passed.
It was early in the evening when the fever showed signed of going away. But by then, I started to sweat again so I decided to go for a walk in hopes that the cool evening air will help me. I took the bus back home to grab my camera and went for a walk around my old neighbourhood. It was only a few minutes away from where I’m living now so I didn’t think it would require a great deal of energy. Even in my weakened state, the walk didn’t seem like a challenge. When I reached the area, it brought back a lot of memories.
This was the area where I grew up, the place where I first lived when I immigrated to Canada. It’s a small little apartment building located on Stinson Street. As I look at the building now, it looks very small but through the eyes of a five-year-old, the place looked huge. I lived in apartment #7 which had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living room.
My fondest memory of this apartment was when my dad purchased “The Clapper” for Christmas and didn’t tell any of us. He would walk into the room and whistle and the next thing we knew, the Christmas lights were flashing. We tried to copy him but none of us knew how to whistle. We had no idea how he managed to get the lights on. I was amazed and thought that my dad was a magician. But then one day, I noticed that he would only whistle in a certain area. Once he was beyond that area, nothing would happen. Somehow, I managed to triangulate his positions and found “The Clapper” plugged into the other end of the Christmas lights. Somehow, I knew that this device was the reason why my dad was able to control the lights.
Conveniently located across the street from our apartment was this convenient store. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that! We weren’t a rich family back then so it was rare that my parents gave me any money for anything. We didn’t get the luxury that some kids get at that age. We didn’t get any toys to play with either. But as I see now, having a roof over our heads was luxury enough. Once in a while, I would get twenty five cents for candies. When I received twenty five cents, I thought I was the richest kid in the world. Back then, with twenty five cents you can buy twenty five penny candies, no tax included. That was a lot of candy for one kid. I even felt that a nickel was a lot of money too.
I remember one day, before going to school I wanted to go to the store and buy some candies but I didn’t have any money. I don’t know where I got the idea to steal from but that’s what I did. I stole candies from the store. The gum was located at the front of the cashier but it was situated in a way that the cashier couldn’t see what gum I would take if I bent down to get them. I grab four Bazooka bubble gums and stuck them in my pocket. I grab some more and place them on the counter. Then I told the cashier that I’ll be back because I forgot my coins at home. As I was leaving, the cashier yelled at me to stop. He walked over and opened up his hand in front of me as if he wanted me to give him something. I took out three bubble gums and place it in the palm of his hand. He warned me that if I did this again, he would tell my parents and the police. I apologized and walked out the door and head to school.
I was pissed off that I was caught stealing but at the same time, I was happy that I got a bubble gum out of it. I don’t know how I managed to think of giving him back only three bubble gums when I took four but I was happy with one bubble gum. I went to school that afternoon a happy boy. I know that it was bad but I was a little kid and I wanted candies. When little kids want something, they figure out a way to get it. I did.
Stinson Street School was the first school that I attended in Canada. I was too old for kindergarten so I went straight to Grade 1. I wanted to go to kindergarten because I heard they got to eat milk and cookies and then take naps afterwards. But that stuff was for babies and I was already five years old.
Edit: I checked my class photo and saw that I was in kindergarten but it was senior kindergarten. The next year, I skipped Grade 1 and went straight to Grade 2.
They sent me to an ESL class because I didn’t know much English. In the morning I would be in my regular class but in the afternoon I would join other students that didn’t speak English. I don’t remember the name of my ESL teacher but I remember her having short grey wavy hair and wear glasses. Most of the kids that were in my area were friends of mine that lived in the apartment buildings beside me. My two best friends were in the class with me and I found that cool. They were my best friends because they were twins so I thought it would be cool to have two best friends who happened to look like each other. Their names were Kong and Sup. I also thought they were cool because they sort of knew karate. I don’t know if what they did was classified as karate but it looked cool.
I don’t recall the basketball courts ever being on the playground. I wasn’t into basketball at the time so maybe that’s why I neglected it. All I did during recess was running around. I have no idea how I managed to have so much fun just by running around. I don’t even remember if I was chasing after anyone either. Maybe I was just running around for the sake of running around.
I spent the next couple of years in this area, learning, playing and just being a kid. Every night before sundown, every kid in the neighbourhood would gather up in the parking lot to place Prison Ball. It was my favourite game at the time. The object of the game was to try and hit your opponent with a rubber ball. If you hit them, they get sent to prison which was located at the back of your opponent’s court. You can free yourself from prison if your teammates pass you the ball and you hit your opponent from prison. But if your opponent catches the ball, he’s safe. If he catches the ball while you’re not in prison, you’re out and have to go to prison. We played this game until we couldn’t even see the ball anymore. Eventually, one of our parents would have to come out and call us to go home. That’s when everyone else started to go home. But the next day, we would be right back at it, right after school.
Located just before the parking lot is this little ramp. One winter my brother, Thoeun and I found a bike at the top of this ramp. It seemed that someone was done with it and decided it to throw it out. The seat was missing but every other part of the bike was in working order. We didn’t have a bike nor did we know how to ride one. My brother and I would take turns going down the ramp. We didn’t know how to balance on the bike but we figured out that if we start at the top of the ramp and just ride it down, we’ll be able to balance. Even though it was the middle of winter and it was freezing cold out, we didn’t give up. We wanted to learn how to ride a bike before went back inside. It took us a while but we got the hang of balance. Of course, we wiped out a few times but we thought nothing of that.
As I was photographed some of these pictures I was greeted by this dog. He wobbled over but I thought nothing of it since I assumed that his owner would be right behind him. He trotted passed me and went to lie down on the grass. Since I didn’t see his owner coming, I thought that it might be safe just to keep on walking, in case he’s a stray down with rabies. As I started to turn the corner, he came after me. Every time he got closer, I tried to move away from him but he would leave me alone. I figured that since he’s trying to get close to me, he’s probably friendly and his owner is probably around somewhere. When I got to the ramp, he ran over to his owner. His owner was talking to a friend in the parking lot. I took that opportunity to run away in case it came back.
In the end, I had a nice little walk down memory lane. I pass by this area a lot when I drive down town with my girlfriend and I’ve been meaning to visit it. I didn’t think I would ever get time to visit with my busy schedule but I’m glad that I took the time. Even though things stayed the same, everything looked so different. The view from a 3′ tall five year old kid is different than a 5’11” twenty six year old guy.