scMary KaysWEB

Mary Kays

 

It was bad when we were just a minority, we used to be called “blackjew”. There was a few there at school that would taunt us. It was terrible, I used to go home crying. When you’re a child, you didn’t know why they called you “blackjew”. Nowadays, we have more multiculture. You’ve got to respect all, really.

My dad came here from Syria, to make a better life for his family. He then had to earn enough to repay his cousin for his fare, and to bring Mum, his brother, his daughter, and son out. So he was here ten years before Mum. In those days you had to peddle. Dad carried suitcases in each hand, and one on his back. He sold clothing; like boots, shoes, and everything. He was jack-of-all-trades.

In that ten years, Mum and her two children lived with her mum and her brother. It was hard when she left home. Imagine leaving your family behind to come to a new country. It wasn’t a first-class voyage either; with the children, it was hard. She was on that boat for twenty-seven days, didn’t speak a word of English. She’d only be twenty-eight; she was married when she was about fourteen. Then after she arrived, she and my father had to reconnect. It was difficult; after ten years you’d be strangers.

It wasn’t too nice when she came, cold, February, but she adjusted. She had no choice, I guess. They stopped peddling, bought a place, and opened a variety store, work clothes, everything in it. They had a good, successful business and got into real estate. She ended up having five more children. Mum and Dad were quite strict. We worked hard, studied, and went to church. I worked in the store, did yards for neighbours, that’s about it.

My father did his own slaughtering. One morning he said, come on Mary; let’s go do a chicken. I said, “Oh my God,” to myself.  He had this big block of wood, put the chicken’s head on, and chopped. He let it go, and the thing chased me out in the garden with its head off. I was screaming bloody murder. About ten at the time.

Dad got me to do everything with him. We had this lovely lamb, poor little thing. You had to hang them upside down, bang them over the head, then, he slit their throat. I had to watch Dad do it. Then we had to cut him up, and put him down for the winter. Those days we didn’t have deep freezes, so, we did our own thing for the winter, like jams and pickles, and we preserved all our vegetables. I had to help my mother do all that. 

That was the way of life. That’s why I’m not a meat eater too much. I would say 80% not a meat eater. It’s the smell. So, we do up a cinnamon, sort of kills the taste and smell of it.

Mary Kays

Prince Edward Island, 2010

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