Ashby/Woodill Days

Ashby School only went up to Grade 7. Next stop was 8 and 9 was Woodill Jr. High, which was near the bottom of Royal Avenue. I already knew where it was from my time at Colby School, which was at the very bottom of Royal Ave. Royal Ave was flat until it got to Terrace Street where it started to slope then dip steeply down to Woodill on Hillview Street. The school was named after a Supervisor of Schools. It was not, as I had thought at one time, because there used to be woods on them there hills.

The building was a standard late-50’s two-story box with windows, unlike Colby or Ashby which were buildings that went back the 20’s. As the Sydney population decreased & schools were amalgamated it became a community centre in late 90’s & due severe flood damage it was torn down in 2017.

My memories are more of the walk to school than my class or students. No teacher names come back to me. The principle was know as Skully – because he was thin with a skull like head (gasp). There was lining up before class in mornings after recess & again the the afternoon. Boys on one side, girls on the other. This was where I got my only school yard nickname – Army Ant – because my last name was Armstrong & I was small. I vaguely remember there was a hockey team.

It was here that I got my first pair of glasses. I blamed my inability to learn on not seeing clearly so I was tested & in fact I wasn’t lying but trust me glasses did little to improve my attention issues. It also here that I ended up missing a few weeks, or more, due to appendicitis. Severe pains going up stairs were the tip off.

I remained a middling student. I tried to conform to being just one of the guys & did manage to fit socially but was never Mr. Popular, rarely fist picked for baseball. The only sport I remember is the hockey team. The school didn’t have a gym. The final year there they school held a dance for us juniors on our way to be seniors. It was torture.

I remember so little I suspect that if I have any repressed memories they are from my time at Woodill. I don’t even remember really being bullied there. Most of that was nearing to home by some troubled Catholic guys in the neighbourhood. It is only in hindsight that I see how troubled they were. Hurt kids hurt kids.

At home I was becoming more responsible for looking after my brother & sisters in the mornings before I went to class. The walk to the school was all down hill but that uphill walk home for lunch & after school was sometimes a killer. Slippery in the winter, with little protection for the wind I never did grow hair on my legs.

While Enjoying A Grape Popsicle

‘it’s the sookie

the gutless wonder – get him’

three pairs of feet rushed me

Dave Parsons, his brother Stinky

and kid sister Mag

with a bruise on her arm

Dave a year older than me

Vic in my class at school

at 12 I knew what helpless meant

there was no way out

sometimes they were suddenly there

shoving and pushing me

‘yah yellow crybaby’

Dave had me in a head lock

handed my Popsicle to Mag

‘can’t even fight a girl’

he pushed me at Mag

she hit me in the face

‘go on – you useless gutless wonder’

she hit me again

I tried to stop her third smack

the others piled on me

‘hit her would you – we’ll teach you’

kicking shoving me to the ground

I tried to stop crying

‘sookie baby you tell

and we’ll say you did that bruise to Mag’

 

looking back

I can place these kids

in small town unhappy drunken homes 

where Dave learned 

words like ‘gutless wonder’

booze-hound Dad working mother

older brothers in and out of jail

acting out as they were acted upon 

abuse that I didn’t experience in my home

which doesn’t change the fact 

I didn’t know how to protect myself 

I believed that I was gutless 

my useless word against theirs

 

Dave broke an arm rolling a stolen car

Stinky got busted for dealing

Mag had her first kid at 16

I suppose they suffered for their actions

yet even as I put them 

in this sociological context

I still wish I had the power then

to beat them

weeping for me to quit it

as I eat my grape Popsicle

and piss 

on their bruised 

powerless 

faces

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

October

Stratford Festival – The Crucible

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

School’s Out 1

My house in Toronto’s east end is surrounded by schools. There are at least 5 within 5 minutes walking distance, plus another 5 within 15 minutes. A couple of the buildings remind me of the schools I went to in Sydney. 1920’s functional with a bit of actual design work around entrances & windows.

The end of the school year always being back memories of anticipating summer. Sitting in class rooms fidgeting with nothing to do – final exams were over, no more lessons to be taught, waiting for reports cards to be filled in the given out. I don’t even know if report cards exist anymore. Back int he day we had to take them home for parents sign during the year. I may have one of my old ones hidden somewhere in my archives.

I was always an average student. Fairly obedient, rarely got into trouble, so deportment was good. But I had attention problems. Also I had spelling issues, which in looking back was a mild dyslexia. One summer I had to spend an hour or so every day writing out words – spelling them each ten times – so I could take that spelling exams once more to see if I could pass into the next grade. 

 

I went to four schools – Colby Elementary, Ashby Middle School, Woodhill Junior High, Sydney Academy High-School. Only the Academy is still standing. Colby was replaced with a big tin box, Ashby burned down mysteriously & was replaced by a big tin box; Woodhill became a community centre for decades & was finally torn down for a housing complex.

 

As much as I was eager for summer I dreaded that final report card – would my marks be good enough to get my reward: a new bicycle, cash. One year they weren’t & I was so demoralized I was afraid to go home & not get my reward. One year I did get that bicycle but not the one I wanted 🙂

Out of Control 

in control or out of control

which gives the better result

which can lead to where 

control is too hard to relinquish

expectations drive dreams goals

 

can someone with control issues

get out of control

with the need to control

hold on too tight

or drop everything too suddenly

relax into a puddle

even a puddle is controlled 

by gravity

free fall isn’t free

free form still has form

 

is the goal to be shapeless 

uncontainable

is that destruction 

anarchy

aimless directionlessness

still has points of reference

that pull to the norm

can the norm be out of control

 

who imposes that structure

who gets to be responsible 

while the rest

are wild and free 

is there actual energy 

in being out of control

doing nothing takes no energy 

realize float down stream

the stream has the control

the surrender is to another’s control

even when out of control

someone does the doing 

 

what is ‘out’

what is ‘control’

who is the object of these definitions

of these structures

even light need dark to exist

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

every Tuesday 2019

July

Stratford Festival – Nathan The Wise

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: https://www.highlandartstheatre.com 


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

September

Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet