This memoir is collection of childhood memories of growing up in the magical, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. It is a step by step, inch by inch, look at the little things that somehow dug into my cells and framed how I moved forward in life and expanded in mind and spirit to be the person I am now. I hope you’ll enjoy the reflections and perhaps gain a little of the learning along with me. As I slowly turn to reflect on growing up in a small town overshadowed by a world wonder, I am amazed by how those beginnings have influenced not only who I am today, but also what I have learned in life. How did that poor, wisp of a girl growing up in Niagara Falls end up in living such an amazing, mystical life in Los Angeles, CA?
The title is based on the vaudeville routine, “Slowly I Turned,” famously done by Abbot and Costello, the Three Stooges and Lucille Ball on “I Love Lucy.” There are countless other performances and variations of the routine that features the words “Niagara Falls,” as the trigger for hilarity. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to google, “Slowly I Turned,” and enjoy a laugh.
The memories are mine, so they are colored and embellished with my own paintbrush, creating my own lessons though my own contemplation.
I have changed or avoided most names and fictionalized character traits to protect the privacy of the players in my story. My sister will mostly be know as, “my sister,” although she did request her pseudonym be, “Cinderella.” Based on the amount of unjust circumstances and chores of our childhood, I think Cinderella is a good choice. My brother will be known as “my brother,” and his pseudonym is “Dean,” because he was all about hot rods and drumming and having fun. School names and any other identifying information will be changed or omitted to protect privacy. I honor my parent’s as Mom or Dad or with their given names. Extended family members who may pop in are all switched up, as are most of the famous people that I may allude to on a personal level.
For my own enjoyment, I decided to use the “Canadian,” or British spelling when writing of my childhood in Canada. It is what I learned and what I used when I was living it. When I’m remembering life after Canada, I’ll use American spelling. As a dual citizen, my allegiances cross borders on the regular and my philosophy is “when in Rome…” I’m trying to write as closely to how we spoke as possible. For instance, “the Falls,” can be the actual waterfalls, or the tourist area of Niagara Falls or the city of Niagara Falls. “Going over the river,” means crossing a bridge to the United States or going to “the American side,” then coming back to “the Canadian side.” It’s pretty self explanatory, and I don’t want to bog down the reader defining every inference to the “Falls,” be it water or city. Also, in order to avoid this becoming a geography lesson, I included the townships around Niagara Falls, such as Stamford, as part of life in the “Falls.”
In 1967, Canada’s Centennial, a wonderful book was produced by the Kiwanis Club of Stamford, Ontario entitled, NIAGARA FALLS, CANADA – a history.” My mother bought this book, and it sat on her bookshelf in for years, its forest green cover binding a history of a town and a life. I often would leaf through the book, look at the photos and think back on a childhood left behind. At some point, it relocated to my bookshelf, and for years and years, the dark green book nodded a hello from the past.
When I began this memoir, I decided to use that book as my main resource of historical facts and to jog my memory of misty details. It was nowhere to be found and there was no time to find it. I’m sure it’s in the box below the other box in the middle of all the boxes in my garage or maybe I gave to my sister or brother.
As resourceful as my mother taught me to be, I searched Amazon online for a copy. There was one copy, used and in good condition. I immediately ordered it and anxiously awaited the arrival of this much-needed, old friend. I started to wonder who the previous owner might be, would there be a name inscribed inside, would it be a name I recognized? Why did they buy it and why did they recycle it on Amazon instead of a used bookstore or Salvation Army?
When the book arrived, I opened the padded envelope with great anticipation. What if nothing was written in it? The book was in good condition. Its pages were yellowed and it smelled a little musty, like a good, old Canadian basement. I was relieved, it was exactly like my mother’s book, the front inside cover a forest green rendering of the American Falls, the river, a bridge, the Niagara area. The inset of the Horseshoe Falls sits in the lower left corner. I turn the first the page. There’s an inscription:
“May 10 – 1982 – Mothers Day”
I could not have wished for anything more magical or meaningful. It was like a gift from my mom. It took me a while to truly appreciate my childhood growing up on the edge of a world wonder. I feel my life is full of the wonder and surprise that people experience when they see Niagara Falls. It was a unique childhood, sometimes very hard, mostly very fun in a very, very special place. I hope you’ll enjoy my turn back on a life rooted in the always misty rainbows of Niagara Falls.