It’s 1956. Tennessee Waltz on the radio in the kitchen. Ingrid Bergman and Marilyn Monroe. The Russians are sending dogs into space and the dogs have spacesuits and helmets. Ed Sullivan and the show of shows. The Honeymooners on Saturday night. Pat Boone and Nat King Cole. Food rationing ended in England. Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan. Elvis Presley appears on TV but we’re not allowed to look at his legs. Polio shots in the school auditorium.
It’s the summer between grade six and grade seven. I’m 11 years old. A June Saturday afternoon, and I’m in my father’s blue Chevrolet, on a Newfoundland section of the Trans-Canada Highway on my way to the home of my father’s brother and his wife and their two boys. My father has heavy snow chains attached to the car’s back bumper and the car drags them like the silver tail of a dragon travelling within the rate of the speed limit - a dragon’s tail travelling through an occasional cloud of dust. The theory is that dragging chains from a car’s bumper will prevent any passenger who happens to be inside the car from suffering attacks of car sickness. The technique has never worked for me but my father attaches the chains every time we go on a trip just in case this is the day the technique may actually work. My father is always prepared. A look in front is better than two behind. My father also has a fully equipped glove compartment. Along with Band-Aids, flashlights, work gloves and maps there’s a bottle opener for sodas along the way. The glove compartment also has a supply of brochures - my father is a travelling paint salesman - cards with all the amazing names for a single colour. Strips of cardboard with shades of white - Bone White, Glossy White, Matte White, Natural Ivory, Medium Ivory, Pure White, Pearl White, Off-White, White. My father is prepared for a sale right in the middle of the Trans-Canada Highway as it cuts through forest. --Magie Dominic
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