Stealing memories

Writer’s block at summer’s end. There might be a connection. I want to dive beneath waves not lean across keys. Lick ice cream cones not blog. Read popular trash not research inside intelligent sources. Meanwhile, another deadline looms: Monday 9 a.m. the next obituary must land in my editor’s inbox.

Ralph Hayter was born in 1912 and grew up in Huntington, Quebec. He and his four brothers loaded the wagon with fresh picked produce and sold it in town:  squash, corn, potatoes, beets, parsnips, raspberries, strawberries.

They were joined on the road by ice men, door-to-door bakers, and old Clydesdale horses huffing along with rollicking milk tins. In the spring they trapped muskrats and sold the skins from the back of the cart too.

The boys played hockey and their dad Archie drove them to games with team of horses and sleigh. Practices took place on frozen fields near their farmhouse.

In 1944, Ralph’s older brother Douglas was killed in the war suddenly elevating him to becoming the eldest. Shot down over Leipzig, buried in a British graveyard in Berlin, it wasn’t until 1991 that Ralph made it there to see the marker.

These bits probably won’t make it into the published piece but they’re fighting their way out anyway. Farm life, fresh produce, and tragedy are buzzing around in my imagination while at my desk of tumbling papers, including Ralph’s hand-written memoir, I lift my eyes from screen to window, where thick branches of maple brush against the glass in time to a chorus of cicadas.

Later today, I’ll pack a picnic. And as I lay out my pre-packaged Safeway salads on the grass I’ll probably pause inside more of Ralph’s memories.


About Nor

I'm a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries--life stories, local histories with flesh & blood anecdotal details. I'm also beginning to create podcasts of people's stories and expanding their audiences. I'm a diarist, an editor, and a political activist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink.
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