A birthday party, 1971

A family celebration, in the kitchen at the Manse, of my brother John’s seventh birthday, March 4, 1971. The photo must have been taken by my mum, Lorna Sedgwick, because her chair at the end of the table is empty.

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.

15 thoughts on “A birthday party, 1971

  1. Happy birthday, dear sister-in-law. You look so shy in the photo..while your siblings were grinning. Timothy’s performance here is superb, thanks for sharing.

  2. Happy Birthday – 1 day late ;( May this be the beginning of a new year filled with sunshine, sernity and everything that makes your soul sing! Warmest regards, Diane

  3. I can guarantee that cake would be double choclate. White cake underneath and I would have run away from home. Oh yeah, happy birthday and all that.

    • Thank you, John! (Or should I say Tubby, a totally undescriptive nickname for you now – but when you look at that photo of you, Mel and me that I posted a few days ago, you can see how it came about!)

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Happy day Katherine. I am struck by how much you look today like the girl you were – and hopefully still are!

  5. Eloise/Katherine – I am confused. Based on Katherine’s post, she is at the left back, with the glasses and smiling. I don’t think she looks shy at all. Unless she is the one left front — which is what I thought at the beginning — and yes, she would then look shy and timid. Clarify, please, Katherine. Also, might I add that in that picture, your Dad reminds me of Harry Connick, Jr. LOL

    • You’re right, Jeannie – that’s me with the glasses. But the way I worded it in the original blog post left room for confusion for those who read it earlier on, so I fixed that up.The benefits of being the editor as well as the writer of the blog!

  6. Hi , I played hockey with most of these fine folks, My brother Tim is on the far right corner, i was 2 years older but remember wearing those minnesota north stars sweaters, I believe that it’s the old Madoc arena because being older i don’t remember playing in the cooper arena. Your best chance of answering the question of your father coaching would be to contact Bob Kirkwood who may have purchased the hockey sweaters the kids are wearing.

    • Hey Bryan, wonderful to hear from you! So I should change the caption to Tim’s name from yours, right? You’re not the first person to say the photo was probably taken in the old Madoc arena (where the Home Hardware is now, for people who may not remember it), not at Cooper. I didn’t remember the Madoc arena being that rustic, but I guess it must have been. Thank you for all the information and suggestions on getting the answers to my questions about a good group of kids, a long time ago.

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