A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 131: City Life

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When we moved into our new abode on 173 St. George Street, Mrs. Helen Smith from Marshall Avenue came right over to help Ma to clean the house. Very nice gesture. At the same time, we could get aquainted, hear the latest gossip and get to know some of our neighbors. We had also a Smith living across the street, (no relation to Helen and Mud). They were called Sunny and Jacky. We got along with them very well too. Then next to them was Spike - they said he was a janiter somewhere. That was all we ever knew of him and his wife.

Then across St. Augustine, on the corner, were George and Frances Kendra. Very nice old couple, had three children all grown up. At the time we came, George was still working at Union Carbide. He always walked to work. George and Frances were immigrants from Slovakia from before the Second World War. They never had an automobile and never had any need for one, he said. Frances exchanged her worldly life with the eternity when she was around 73, but George stayed in the community till he got to the ripe old age of around 86.

Living in town meant we could use all the water we needed. This was fantastic because Ma could now fill the bathtub with water, and slop the kids, or just give them their daily scrubbing. For ourselves too, it was such an improvement, filling the tub, which was taboo at our old place, because we had a well and only rain water to keep it supplied. Although Ma never complained, she just was very careful not to waste any.

At the time, Welland South did not have a very good name. It was supposedly a hot bed of bootleggers and smugglers. Indeed, there were a few slobovian characters but they never bothered us. There was Baba where you could buy spirits after the beer parlors were closed.

Then there was one upright citizen who got raided by the Mounties. They found a still in his basement. One tragic event was when a known drunk came home Saturday night, got in an argument with his wife and put the house afire, burned four of his own children to death.

I had a hole dug in front of the house to make a root cellar underneath the porch. One night, we heard an awful racket in front of our house. Upon investigation, we found a drunk had rammed his Oldsmobile into the pile of dirt and got promptly stuck.

Frank Forstner, an escapee from Hungary who had a little boy he raised by himself, asked if he could board Frankie with our family. Ma agreed. One more mouth to feed would not make too much difference, she said, so the kid moved in. He was the same age as MaryAnn but did not talk too well, so he called her Mares. It seemed that MaryAnn did not mind, in fact she liked it so much, she wanted everybody to call her by that name, and from that time onward, she has been known as Mares.


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