Saturday, October 3, 2009
Sunken Gardens on a Sunday afternoon
In the summer of '63, our family, who consisted then of our Isa, Aiti, older sister, Katja, younger sister, Della, and me, the middle sister (our brother wasn't born until '66), went to Hillcrest Park to the Sunken Gardens to take a family photo. As we are in our Sunday best, I believe the photo's purpose was to send it back home to the relatives in Finland and Sweden. We probably went for a Sunday drive first, because that's what families with cars did in the 60s--or at least immigrant families like ours who were striving to become part of the american culture. Getting a car was ....making it, man. Katja is taking the photo with our father's camera, and she's still taking photos! That's our mom, Ritva, on the left, with her summer purse beside her on the bench. In those days women had only 2 or 3 purses: a summer purse and a winter purse, and maybe an "evening bag" which was a small bag of some shiny material for dress-up evening parties or weddings. On the ground beside her is our dog, Bullet, whose name we pronounced Pulet-ti. Our dad had given Katja the honour of naming her when she was a new puppy, and as we were big fans of the tv show Roy Rogers, our new pomeranian mutt was named after Roy Roger's german shepherd. Never mind that our Puletti's looks did not match her namesake's. Lucky we didn't name her Trigger or Flipper, another tv show we loved to watch. I'm sitting beside my mother on the bench, wearing knee socks and my polished cotton dress...or was it a jumper?... of polkadots of various shades of brown. The fabric was soft and a bit shiny, making the dress very comfy to wear. Next to me is our baby sister, Della, who was called Baby Sister way past her babyhood. "Della on pei-pi" my mom would say, excusing her from all manners of chores. "Della's a baby" we heard over and over again, and hence treated her like that...way past her babyhood. Our father is on the other end of the bench. He's dead now; all the Maki boys have passed away, only Vellamo, the oldest sister, is still alive. She's 96 and a half now and the only Maki sibling left, as our uncle, Erkki, just died, may he rest in peace.
A few days ago, before the early morning frosts suddenly hit town to wipe out any delicate flowers, leaves, or tomatoes, I snapped this photo on my way back from my run. I had looped up the Bay St. stairs and cut across the Sunken Gardens, which are named so because they are a few steps down from street level. The zinnias in the garden were spectacular this year, a riot of rich colour. This is the same spot in the Sunken Gardens as that in the photo above. What's different today? Well, the bench is different; today's is just wood, no concrete on the ends. Is that the same house in the background? or is this bench slightly north of the earlier bench? A birch tree that has grown since '63 obscures the view. A different car, a more recent model, is driving by, heading down the hill on Dufferin Street. The zinnias splash colour, missing in the photo from '63. And, of course, no one is on the bench!