Friday, June 30, 2006

my mother + Alan Ladd

I was on the phone recently with my mother as she asked me how the non-fiction book on Ottawa was coming along; I told her about a few of the things I've been discovering, such as Pure Spring Ginger-Ale (which she didn't know about) and Crawley Films (which she did). At the prompting, she told me a story of Crawley Films, from when she lived in Ottawa. My mother is very much an Ottawa-gal; the middle of seven, the first in her family hospital-born (at the Grace, where I was), and lived at 233 Gilmour Street until she was fifteen, when the whole family moved down to the Alta Vista area, just at Ridgemont Avenue (then Kirk Drive) and Alta Vista (right by what is now Ridgemont High School). She went to the same grade school my daughter did; she even went to the Plant Bath at Somerset and Preston, half a block from where I live, during the 1950s.

Earlier in the 1950s, when she was ten or eleven, the American actor Alan Ladd was in Ottawa, re-doing the sound for the film Saskatchewan; apparently something had gone wrong with the original sound recording, and the only place that had the tools and the knowledge to re-do such a thing was "Budge" Crawley's Crawley Films. Ladd came to Ottawa with his daughter (and eventually broke an ankle while jumping off something he shouldn’t have, showing off to his daughter at the Chateau Laurier pool, while teaching her to swim); there too was my mother, ten or eleven years old with a friend in the gathered crowd outside Crawley Films' location in Hintonburg, waiting for a glimpse of the famous actor. Apparently, when Ladd's driver left the building to walk the dog, the two girls wandered over to see it, opening the offer for them to spend a half an hour walking the dog up and down the street. Can anyone else say that their mother met the guy who played Shane, let alone walked his dog?

Every so often, I realize my mother is far more interesting and engaged than I give her credit for. There are stories in her I have yet to get out. Today is her sixty-sixth birthday; my father turned sixty-five on Monday (they spent his birthday getting new glasses). Happy Birthday to them both.

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