By Richard Valeriote
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Extra resources for Alice Street: A Memoir
I would wave to him and he always waved back. Mrs Ferraro was short and could barely see over the porch railing. Whenever someone passed, she’d lift herself up on the arms of her chair and crane to see who it was, then sit down again. Mrs Dupuis seldom smiled as she sat on her porch waving her ever-present fan. I imagined that her dourness reﬂected some painful secret. Mr Skoronski liked to sit out in the direct sun, even on hot days. He was always neatly dressed and always wore a fedora. A lone railroad spur in the neighborhood led to the place where the engineer drove the roundhouse locomotive each night, opened a hatch in the belly, and emptied the ﬁrebox onto the ground.
I’m sure every one thought, There but for the grace of God … The cofﬁn was smothered in ﬂowers whose perfume mingled with the candle smoke and permeated the church. Sitting there quietly waiting for the service to begin, I watched large waxen tears slide slowly down the candle into the receptacle below. The only sound were stiﬂed sobs in the pews. Suddenly the organ broke into a hymn and Father O’Brien, with his retinue, came out into the sanctuary to begin the funeral mass. ” °°°°° The following summer I got a surprise invitation from Father O’Brien to attend Camp Brebeuf, a new Catholic summer camp for boys in the woods near Rockwood, a small town about seven miles from Guelph.
He’d been caught playing hooky and – sin of sins – smoking cigarettes. A truant ofﬁcer apprehended him and took him home. His exasperated mother dragged him off to school, knowing he’d face a much more terrifying fate than anything she might dish out. I was sitting in class when this older boy’s deep-throated screams ﬁlled the hallways, followed by the thumping of his heels striking the risers as he was dragged backwards up the stairs. Then we could hear him being hustled, still protesting, into the long, narrow cloakroom behind the classroom, followed by the violent smacking sound of the strap, and more howling.
Alice Street: A Memoir by Richard Valeriote