I once admitted to a male friend (not a partner) that I had told a best friend some very intimate personal things…and he said that guys often tell their best friends intimate personal stuff too. I guess it depends on who the people are, what the information is, and why it had to be shared. I refuse to feel guilty about spilling my guts to a trusted friend. Sometimes, when the dam is about to break…you go to someone with a life raft!
When I was about 10, I watched as a family moved into one of the houses where we lived on 5th Street. My friend Evelyn’s father was watching too and when he saw the big assortment of tools the new guy had, he said "I don’t know this guy, but I like him already!" Both men were mechanics — who looked after their stuff.
This strip received some nice mail. Folks expected to read a sarcastic punch line. Growing up in North Vancouver, we were always playing with and studying next to kids from China, Japan, and other Asian countries. In fact, it was hard to learn French as a second language when we were more familiar with Mandarin and Japanese. I wanted to draw an Asian family, and the Enjos stepped in.
The name "Enjo" was for my grade six home economics teacher. Miss Enjo was a sweet and lovely lady and must have been in her twenties at the time. My dad guessed that her last name had been longer and had been shortened when her family immigrated to Canada. The family I made up was based on the Masuda family — who had known my in-laws in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. They had also moved to North Bay, which was a nice coincidence: We had friends here to make us feel at home.
My folks used to take us to farms in the Fraser Delta for fresh strawberries. Both Alan and I were too young to enjoy picking, but we sure liked eating them. One day when our family was standing at the checkout with our baskets of strawberries, the man at the till looked at my brother with a curious smile. Alan was covered from his mouth to his navel in red juice. The man picked him up, put him on a big metal scale, and announced that he had to charge for the extra weight of the berries inside. He was kidding, but Dad paid him a little extra anyway.
Every summer we went as a family to get fresh fruit in season. In the Okanagan, we got peaches, plums, and apricots. It was a long drive but worth it. Mom canned everything, so we had the luxury of fruit preserves all winter long. Nothing tasted like the fresh stuff, though, and on one trip, Dad said we kids could eat whatever we wanted — so we did! As I said, it was a long drive home. With two kids full of fresh fruit, it’s easy to imagine the results. We used the “roadside” washroom many times, with Mom hiding us behind her skirt as Dad looked madly around for paper!
The Enjos provided both Elizabeth and Michael with friends to play with — I wanted the whole family to integrate with the Pattersons. This is always the hope when new folks move into the neighbourhood, and I could make it happen in the strip!
These ornate dolls were based on a collection in Louise Masuda’s house. Children in Japan often receive these lovely figures as gifts. They form a large retinue of characters with different levels of importance, so after many years, you can have a sizeable number — arranged in order of their station. They are heirlooms not toys, and eventually a showcase is needed to display them in. I thought this was a wonderful idea and so I included them here.
After this strip ran, I had all kinds of letters from folks with similar backgrounds wondering where our family had originated and if there was any connection. I wished at the time we could have met some long-lost cousins, but sadly, that didn’t happen.
I never looked forward to phys ed, and as soon as I could, I dropped it in favour of…well, anything else! This series was done for the teachers who loved to watch us tail-draggers squirm! In their defense, they kept us in the best shape we’d ever been in.
In junior high, our teacher used to cut things so short we had no time to change before our next class. Her rule was, we HAD to shower. She’d watch us as we scrambled, slipped, and slid through the water and into our clothes — barking at those of us who tried to get away with not taking off our underwear. Some of us wondered if she was "unusual" or just plain mean!
I did get complaints about this one. People said I was stereotyping Asians as being intellectuals. Ironically, none of the complaints came from Asians.
Growing up in North Vancouver meant we lived on "the rain coast," where it was rumoured that some of us had webbed feet. Despite the fact that rain was inevitable, I was well into my teens before I agreed to use an umbrella!
Science projects for me were always a lot of fun. Both my parents were so keen to get involved, that all I had to do was know the facts and write an essay.
Katie asked to have her ears pierced as soon as she saw other little girls with earrings. We said she could have pierced ears for her fifth birthday. We took her to the local jewellery store, and she was almost too excited to sit still; however, she didn’t expect piercing to hurt so much and refused to get the second one done. It took a while to make a decision: Either take the one out or have the second earring put in. She decided to go ahead with the second one — as long as her brother couldn’t watch!