I had a unique and busy day with reporters yesterday, although I obviously didn’t change anyone’s mind. Boston Globe here and here ,New York Times, USA Today, Greenwire. Ross talked to San Francisco Chronicle. Back to usual today.
When I was checking the Boston Globe, a completely different story caught my eye- the closing of Filene’s.
In 1954, when I was 6 turning 7, my father was interning as a surgeon in Boston. I was in Grade 3 at Sprague School in Wellesley. Boston was then a much bigger city than Toronto (it wouldn’t be any more) and my mother was enthralled with Filene’s Basement, sufficient that the name stuck in the mind of a young boy. I emailed the url on the closing of Filene’s to my mother (just back from a travel writers’ junket to the Yukon) who sent me this little memory:
I have a picture of a dress that I bought in Filenes basement, a knock off of a Dior, it is now in the Museum of Modern Art. the original not mine. When I went to parents night at the Sprague School in Boston, all the children had pictures of their parents with large smiling heads in bright colours. Yours had me with a small head dressed in black. Concerned I asked the teacher why yours was so different, she said, "you recognized that the human had a small head your son is bright." I was somewhat comforted but the issue of me in black was a concern. when I got home I said, Stephen what a nice picture of me, why did you use black, Oh you said, it was your new black dress. … She went on to say that she thought the Canadian school system must be very good as you and Shelagh were so advanced. This is one of the parents nights that has stuck in my mind. Sad to think of that era in Boston, it was such a magical time. I will never forget combing the Saturday papers for Filenes Monday sales.
It’s funny what one remembers. In Canadian schools, we used to start the day with the National Anthem (then God Save the Queen) and the Lord’s Prayer (the latter long discontinued); at Sprague School, we started the day with the Pledge of Allegiance and I still remember most of the words. For some reason, I learned the state capitals, which is an odd piece of trivia that’s stuck with me. (South Dakota – Pierre). Hurricane Hazel is something else that I remember. I forget whether I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, I sometimes repeat my few stories. It was supposed to hit Boston, but swerved – although I remember being buffeted in a little woods between our house and the school. Instead, it hit an unsuspecting Toronto, where the placid little Humber and Don Rivers turned into monsters and swept away houses that encroached into the ravines. The effects of Hurricane Hazel are felt to this day, as Toronto made massive changes to its zoning and development codes. The ravines through the city are now mostly free of development and are quite a treasure with bike paths stretching for miles.