Niagara Falls, Canada
Niagara Falls is someplace I’ve been to many times since I was a child. There were family trips and I’ve seen the falls with friends and a trip with my Mom. But today’s mug-story is of a couple of trips I do not have vivid memories of. I have some photos and stories and just a few snap-shots in my mind from when I was very young. Looking at this mug right now, popped the thought, with a smile, of traveling in Canada and language. Ce n'est pas ce que vous pensez! (It’s not what you think!)
When I was little, we always stayed at the Cliffside Motel on the Canadian side of The Falls. When Mom and I were there in the early 2000s, we found the hotel, but we didn’t stay there that time. But I remember a flood of memories washing over me when I saw the hotel. Funny how things can just trigger the mind that way. It was the side view of the hotel overlooking the falls, which by the way also struck me with the similarities of a certain angle of both Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and San Marino, the Fatherland.
I have a couple of photos, one with my Grandfather (Papa) and one with Grandma. Each photo is posed on the brick wall where you can view the falls, each of them taken by the other one with me when I was about 2 ½ years old. I have on a fur hat that tied under the chin with matching furry balls on the end of each string. I remember the hat and I remember that I loved that hat. Okay, so we can establish that my thing for flashy to odd headgear is many years embedded into my personal style!
Grandma always called me “her gypsy” because I was always ready to go wherever they were going. I didn’t need a lot of advance notice and I was ready to move on to anyplace anyone was going, but especially when it was Grandma and Papa. In fact, Mom had retold the story a few times about when I was planning to run away from home.
I was about 4 and was mad at Mom. She couldn’t remember in the retelling why, but it was something I wanted that she had the nerve to tell me, “no.” So I was done with her and ready to move out. I had packed my suitcase: clean underwear, my doll and an empty milk carton. I knew I’d want milk to drink on my journey, but a full milk carton was too heavy to carry in my suitcase. I brought my suitcase out and announced to my Mom that I was running away from home. Mom asked me where I was going in case she ever wanted to find me. I told her I was going to live with Grandma and Papa.
When Mom told me the story she marveled at my accuracy when she asked if I knew how to get there. I answered with “go down the street, turn this way, walk for a while, then turn and walk for a long time…” but I was correct in all the directions and the “little bit” as opposed to “walk a long time” parts. David will laugh when he reads that and ask “What happened” about my accuracy with directions!
The running away ended with Mom’s suggestion that I should call Grandma before I go because it would be rude to just go without telling her I’m coming. On the phone, Grandma suggested that since it was getting dark and I’d probably get sleepy, it might be a better idea to come in the morning and get a good night’s sleep before I walk all that way. I took Grandma’s advice, but then I forgot to run away in the morning.
The hat I described from Niagara Falls saw the Falls more than once. On another trip, it helped to christen a childhood word that my English-speaking family adopted. With the Italian-speaking part of the family, delicate words around the kids were simply said in Italian. By delicate words, I mean, what do your kids call their private parts? What did you call yours as a child?
Let’s talk about the balls at the end of the strings on that hat. I called them “flubbies.” No one has any recollection why I called them flubbies or where I’d heard the word flubbies. Maybe I just made the word up, but it was my hat with the flubbies. On a later trip to Niagara Falls with extended family on the Italian side, we were going to take the boat ride that went under the Falls, Maid of the Mist. I was excited to go, but worried that my beloved hat would get wet. I had the rain poncho hood pulled up and the flubbies tucked safely in the poncho so they’d be dry.
Imagine a 4-year old with big balls on the ends of strings that tied a hat tucked under a rain poncho. I looked like quite the early-bloomer! My aunt’s friend, looked at me and gasped pointing and asking me if I got “boobies.” I said “No! Those are my flubbies!”
Breasts were “flubbies” until my brother and I were about 10 and 11!