Today is my birthday, and so I thought I’d post a birthday photo from a long time ago at the Manse. (And after this one, I promise I’ll return to some present-day photos and posts. But humour me for today; it’s my birthday, remember?) This photo was taken in March 1971 – as always, my grandfather J.A.S. Keay’s neat lettering on the back tells me that – and the beaming birthday boy seems to be my brother John, so it must have been March 4, 1971, John’s seventh birthday.
Beside John is Ken, the younger of my brothers, who four days later would turn 5 years old. Opposite Ken is my sister, Melanie, 8 going on 9 at the time, and beside her, me, 10 going on 11. And at the head of the table is my dad, Wendell, who would have been 39 years old. In studying this photo I am absolutely stunned at how much Dad looks like my nephew Timothy Wisnicki, the youngest of the four sons of Melanie and her husband, Greg. Tim is 18 and just getting ready to start university studies. Sometimes it is just amazing how strong the resemblances are from one generation to the next, or, in this case, the next after that.
Here is a video of a performance by the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra of Cobourg and Port Hope, Ont., of which Timothy is a member; in the performance, Tim is the piano soloist for the Piano Concerto in C Minor by Gabriel Pierné. His grandfather Wendell, who looks so much like him, would have been so proud:
You can tell from the birthday photo that life was not fancy at the Manse, though we lacked for nothing we truly needed. And you get a real eyeful of the turquoise-painted kitchen walls that were the bane of my mother’s existence but that I am now eager to restore from behind the ghastly wood panelling that was put up to cover them not long after this photo was taken. The colour is not helped by the dimness of the light, a problem in March 1971 and a problem now; the only light source in that large kitchen continues to be a single 100-watt bulb in an ancient ceiling fixture. Kind of cool that it’s still there (the fixture, I mean; probably not the bulb!), but really, that room needs some light. And will get it.
And as for the birthday cake? Probably chocolate, under that white icing. And doubtless Duncan Hines – or Duncan High, as John used to call it when he was a little boy. His favourite.