The Book Of Life

A tale of a man...

[Second Era]
"Life is like a box of chocolates." - Forrest Gump
I like the sweet fruity ones, but avoid the nuts.

I have not found the time or the means to divide this story into pieces yet. So for now, I simply start at the beginning, and procede from there.

I was born in Orangeville. Delivered by Dr. Gary Veeneman. He still had dirt under his fingernails from working outside when he came it. It was at 4:00 am on August 30th, 1975 that I was born.

My parents lived in a small apartment in the town of Orangeville. My mother no longer worked, but had before as a clerk. My father worked for Triton Engineering.

Within a year, give or take, we moved to a house on Church St., also in Orangeville. This is where my memories start.

The house was black and white, and at the time of writing this, it still stands on Church Street. It was a split-level house. It had four half floors in all. I have only scattered memories of that time. The few I can remember are:

Outside, bundled up in a snowsuit and hardly able to move. The kid next door was also outside on his front lawn (lawns being covered in snow of course).

Standing in the covered walkway that ran between the house and the garage, looking at a snail and my dad pouring beer over it.

A small kids wading pool in the back yard.

Walking down the stairs from the front hall to the recreation room and jumping from about the fifth or sixth step up. There was a railing along the right hand side of the stairs, but as I fell, it seemed more like I was floating. I firmly believed then, and in some small part of my soul still do, that I flew that day. Not far, or high, but I flew.

The chimney catching fire in the recreational room one night and me being set next door to the neighbours until the fire trucks had left.

A cat named Ding Bat. He was kind of a tawny orange colour. He was eventually hit on the road and killed quite a ways from where we lived.

A big green van that we had as our vehicle.

Camping up north around Cyprus Lake (I think). Pre-packaged ham steaks with raisin sauce that I used to love to eat with us while camping. A green sleeping bag with hunting scenes inside of it.

At the age of 4, my sister was born. We moved in with my grandparents for a brief period while the house was being finished. This is where I lived off and on for the next 20 years. It was located on the corner of my grandfather's farm, on the third line of Mono Township. Mono became a Town some 20 years later.

I attended, what I knew as, Anne School. It was a half day sort of preschool that taught phonics, math and so on. It was held in the basement of the Tweedsmuir Presbyterian Church in Orangeville. I remember that it seemed like a big room we were in. Greg Bray, John and two or three other kids are all I can remember. I don't think there were any more than that. I do remember that the highlight of the day was who got to go and help Anne in the kitchen prepare the snacks we got near the end of the day. The "snacks" were small paper cups (Dixie cups) full of an assortment of raisins, peanuts and mini marshmallows. Just for amusement, I made this snack for myself years later and was extremely disappointed at the weird mix of tastes. I guess it is true what they say about not being able to go back. It was the best part of Anne school that I remember, though I would have to say that in years to come, the phonics and math skills I started there would serve me better than I realized. One last thought. Forget-me-nots grew along the fence out back of the church in the parking lot.

I remember, what I think was a birthday party, at the house in the country. I remember John, Greg and myself, and maybe another person, flying a kite across the flat part at the bottom of the hill.

At the age of 5, it was off to school. Kindergarten. Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Robinson were my teachers at Mono and Amaranth Public School (M.A.P.S.). The school sat at the corner of Highway 10 and the Hockley Valley Road. Mademoiselle Kang was the French teacher. I had her again in grade 2. Then she called me her "petite arachide", which for those who don't speak French means, my "little peanut". She had nicknames for everyone in the class. At the time, I was one of the smallest guys physically, and actually rather liked my nickname. I must admit, later in life it is not the sort of nickname one strives for, but then it was cute. In Kindergarten, I remember very little. M.A.P.S. Kindergarten room had a separate cloakroom. It had a small sandbox and other toys inside. I don't remember learning much except for French though. I do remember nap time every afternoon and vaguely remember playing house with Bonnie Rayburn and a bunch of large sized "bricks" made from cardboard.

Grade one comes next (a duh!) and for that my teacher was Mrs. Ferris. I remember growing bean plants from sprouts. I remember there was an assignment the teacher gave us to write what we thought September meant and draw a picture to go with it. I didn't want to do something mediocre. Even at that point in my life, I was different. I did "Kids go back to school". Almost everyone else did "The leaves change colour". I remember I was quite proud of the fact that I'd come up with something that no one else in the class had even thought of. Though it seems hugely trivial now. We read from books that basically were the a-typical "See Jack. See Jack Run. Run Jack Run" sort. I quickly outpaced others in my class, and before the end of the term, myself and James were moved, part time, to the Grade 2 class during those times when our grade one class was reading. This was the beginning of what would be a trend for me. I'll get to it more later on. At this point I was still oblivious to it, and still very much one of the gang, in fact was even popular, such as it is amongst 6-year-old kids. I remember Heather Chapman. I vaguely remember her being sick for a while, though I can't remember what with now. I remember my older cousin Laura Lynn and her friends (in Grade 8 or so at the time) picking us up and swinging us around. It was fun, though scary at the same time. I remember playing kissing tag. I also remember when Greg Bray went too far and he, along with a couple of girls, pulled Tom's pants down. Martin Gilespie and I ended up telling the teacher. Don't know what the outcome of that was. I remember that I wasn't very good at kissing tag. That is to say, that at that age, I was a very good runner comparatively, hence I didn't get caught much, if at all. In retrospect, I suppose that makes me a bad player . I remember Valentine's Day, everyone would hang paper bags on their desk and trade little cards. I remember there were a couple of kids who didn't get any, or if they did, got the ones that others had left over, like those with little skunks or other things on them. I was not one of those, though I felt bad for those who did get them.

In grade two, the teacher was Mrs. Macdonald. She was a good teacher and, would often even take us outside and play guitar and sing for us. The class was divided into reading groups for the year, and each group read through readers at their own pace. At the front of the class, there was a different coloured piece of paper for each group. James and I were on the same pink piece of paper as the top group, except that our names were first and had a line under them. That was because, we would finish the advanced readers way before anyone else and then be given our own, even more advanced ones to read from. Maybe this was where my love of reading came from, though I don't think so. I think my personal love of reading came a couple of years later when my mom bought me Golem In The Gears by Piers Anthony. It was the first "fantasy" novel I remember reading. After it, I went back and bought and read the first 8 in the series. Many of them I read in a single day. Though I enjoyed that series then, now I will admit it was is a little juvenile. Though it will always have a place in my heart as it has led me to my current library of over 1000 books, and growing, and what I hope will be a lifetime love of reading. So, for the second year in a row in school I was, at least part of the time, segregated from the rest of the class. I can't say that I have that many more memories of grade 2. I do remember that my favourite song that Mrs. Macdonald used to sing was "On top of spaghetti" to the tune of "On top of old smoky".

Grade three. Once again, I was put into a separate section. This time however, the section was bigger and it wasn't reading I was singled out for. It was math.

My teacher was Mrs. Smith this year. Mr. Millar was the Vice-Principle of the school at the time and he took 15 of us from class every time we did math to work with him. I don't remember everyone he took, though some I do. Tracy Laverty, Scott McKee and others. We used to drill on multiplication tables. Eventually, he had a deal. He eventually divided us into groups of, four or so. Every Friday, the group who had the best average time on Thursday, got to go to a pizza party during lunch at the Pizza Barrel. My time was better (by almost half) than the next fastest person in the group. And better by a long shot than most others. Don't know if I was that good or the others were that bad. I do remember that the day he always ran the tests, I was away. Thus it wasn't until almost the end of the school year before I managed to be there on a Thursday. With my time added in, my group had no problem being best and we finally had our party. Grade three was also the year that two pivotal events, in my thinking, were set up. The first, starts like this: I was, to my recollection, quite popular then. Myself, John Perotta, Andrew Richmond and one other, were the smallest guys, but we also had the most energy and usually spent our recesses being chased by girls and having fun. It was during this year that I had my first girlfriend. I even remember how it happened. We were writing a math test (in my regular class) and being done early, I had time on my hands. The test was several pages stapled together. In the small piece of paper that was to the outside of the staples (the spine basically) I wrote a bunch of little hearts and the words "I love you". Then, when the teacher wasn't looking I causally held my test up as though looking through it for mistakes while making sure that the text written in the fold was obvious to the girl, Christy Chesney, who sat not too far away from me. She saw it and smiled. The next recess, I acquired my first every girlfriend. Though it has to be said, at the age of 8, the word girlfriend might be too strong. None the less, it was someone who I spent my time with and dreamed with. I met her grade 8 friends and all in all, life was grand.

The second was when I met a man with a long grey beard. He gave me a test. It had 3-d pictures of stacks of blocks, and words you had to come up with associations for and other fun sort of stuff. That fun sort of stuff, was the test for gifted children and, I passed. So it would be that starting in Grade 4, one day a week I was removed from my normal class for the day and put in with 13 people from East Garafraxa Public School in gifted withdrawl. The teacher was Linda Lockyer.

Spelling words from the business section of the paper in grade 6. No idea what they meant, but could spell them. Thank you Anne school and phonics.

Design and Layout, Copyright 2000, Kurtis R. McClellan
Last Updated: August 27th, 2000.