Father’s Goose

You might get the wrong impression if I said we lived in a two-storey home with a three-car garage. It was true, but it was not of the suburban variety. This house was an inner-city house with no front lawn and the distance between houses was the width of a car with no more than one foot on each side of the car going out the laneway. And the three-car garage was more like a horse barn which the Hopey family used to park their truck and which we used to store huge steel tubs for making home-made soap and white wash for painting the monstrous garage. Need I add we did not have a car. My father used to rope me into painting the garage with him. He whitewashed the highest parts of the paint job and, in Tom Sawyer fashion, he used excuses to go to the bathroom or to buy some more pipe tobacco, while I painted and waited impatiently for his slow return.

The summer before my father fell in love with the idea of having goose for Christmas dinner, we demolished the three-car garage. The removal of the garage revealed one of my most successful escape routes—through a hole in the back fence onto the train tracks. When the garage was still standing, there were only two or three feet from the end wall of the garage to the back fence. I had loosened the nail from the bottom of one of the boards and left the top nail in. I simply had to swing the board to one side and slip out of the back yard unseen. Now my passageway was exposed.

Looking from the fence back to our two-storey house, painted green with pale yellow trim, the end of the house was a green wall with a window on the second floor for hanging clothes on a line stretched from the window to a pole near the fence. The back door was noticeable now that the garage was torn down. The door led to a steep flight of stairs up to what we called the wood and coal sheds. During the day, this large room had much light from the window for hanging clothes so that you did not have to turn on the light to see, and the white ice-box near the door to the kitchen always stood out.

When Father’s goose arrived one afternoon just before Christmas, my father entered the front door in the middle of the day, paraded up the stairs, walked through the dining room, passed by everyone in the kitchen with the goose wrapped in butcher paper over his shoulder, exited the kitchen, and deposited the goose in the ice-box.

As he re-entered the kitchen, the rest of the family was amused at the broad grin on his face. He announced, “I’ve got my goose.”

Mother, with her apron on and her hands on her hips, smiled as she congratulated her husband. “Well, Merry Christmas, to you, Dan, you really got your wish. We'll be having a special dinner this year.”

My father headed back to work.

My sister inquired, “Where did he get the goose?” Mother didn’t know. Perhaps he got it at Elliott’s butcher shop or perhaps an Islander starting work on long shore brought one to your father for helping him get a job.

My inquiry was, “Who cares about goose? I’d rather have turkey, or even chicken.”

According to Mother’s conversations with Charlotte on the phone in the days leading up to Christmas, Dan was pretty excited about his goose. He brought the subject up every time he was in the store.

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author
John is engaged in a reading club, a writing group, Aquafitness, travel, movies, and grandparenting. Born, raised, and educated in the Maritimes, His career and retirement is focused in Ottawa. Author of INDIAN RIVER, an anthology of short stories and TRUer NORTH, a non-fiction reflection on his cultural experience through six years in Nunavut.
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