Finding Sylvia

I was born in 1958 in Kitchener, Ontario to German born parents. My parents grew up in Germany during World War II. My father decided to move to Canada, hearing it was a land of opportunity. Hearing that it was a vast country. He traveled to Canada on a large boat and settled in Kitchener. It had a high concentration of Germans. In fact, before World War II, Kitchener was named Berlin. The name was changed after World War II.

My father had Austrian friends who took him in and helped him in this new country. He yearned for a German wife and placed an ad in a German newspaper. So, yes, my mother is a mail order bride. I’m not sure why she decided to answer my father. I know the situation in Germany after the war was difficult. I suppose my mother thought that it would be quite the adventure to travel to this great and beautiful country called Canada.

She traveled to Canada by boat and met my father. My father’s friends helped with the wedding arrangements and my parents settled into a comfortable apartment on the bottom floor of a house. I arrived shortly after that. Apparently, I was a difficult baby as I had colic. My mother probably smiled when my first daughter also had colic. Pay back.

Life was good for my parents and my father yearned to move out to the country with a house and a large sized lot. They found a single street subdivision, at that time, far outside the city limits of Kitchener. They purchased a one acre lot and proceeded to build themselves a sturdy, brick bungalow. We were surrounded by farmers’ fields, bushes and a creek.

Life as a child in the 60s was carefree. No cares or concerns. It was the time of big, sold cars with no seat belts, no child car seats, no helmets. How did we survive through all of that? Our toys were few. I was the only girl in the neighborhood and I did not care about that. Neither did the boys. We had legos, GI Joes, Barbies and our wild imaginations which we used every day. Children were seen but not heard and we were disciplined by all the adults on the street.

Our family was the first to purchase a television. It was a large, brown box that stood on wooden legs. No remote controls back then and a remote was certainly not needed with the three television stations that we could mostly get with the silver rabbit ears that came on the back of the television. To select our channel, there was this small, wooden dial on the side of the television that we would have to get up from the floor or couch and turn.

I can still smell the different seasons that came in that area of Ontario. Spring had such a full, sweet scent and once I could smell it, I knew summer was coming. Summer would have a heavy, wet scent for, at that time, our summers would be hot and humid. Fall had a scent of crispness with a cool wind. Then the scent of winter was cold, crisp and wet of snow. I learned to recognize them all.