Sandbox Memories

I grew up in a place called Scarborough. It was the little town that grew and when I was a pre-teen it became a city. Then it was gobbled up by what we used to call ‘Downtown’ – it became part of the massive city of Toronto, or the ‘GTA.’

When I was little I wanted so badly to leave home. My childhood was rife with conflict and many bad memories. My family had broken there. My siblings and I scattered as soon as we could. 

Speaking of the squirrel chronologs,  I’m about to share a bunch of random memories with you…

My house felt so big when I was little. A squat semi detached 3 bedroom bungalow in the middle of an old street. Big trees full of raccoon families all around. 

We had a swing set in the backyard – Two different ones actually. The first only had two swings – like an A frame type. The second one was great with a slide, bars, rings, some sort of seesaw thing and swings… I spent much time upside down on it. We had so many flowers and flowering shrubs in our backyard.

And at risk of sounding cliche´, mum would toss us outside to play until the streetlights came on. There was so much to do including hopscotch, 2 balls, skipping, elastics, swings, play in the dirt, basketball, sandbox….

We had an ancient grown over sandbox at the far back of our property. It was full of bugs and cat poop. The house backing on to ours once had a mean kid living in it who would ping plastic covered wire missiles at us with his sling shot. We could have lost an eye according to my mum. He hid up in the trees above the sandbox so we couldn’t really play in it safely.


Lilies of the valley sprouted under my window each spring.

My aunt lived in our basement apartment for a while and the lillies grew by the window to the basement. I always think of her when I see that flower. 

Our family had so many different pets over the years. When they died we’d bury them under a big rock at the back of the vegetable garden – near the sandbox. I’d sit there and talk to my beloved pets sometimes. I have ‘a thing’ for rocks to this day.

Then there was the spider monkies. They showed up in our backyard one year having escaped illegal captivity at the weird man’s house up the street from us. We were warned we’d get rabies if we touched them. My mum wasn’t afraid though, she was apparently immune from rabies as she coaxed them out of the trees to eat treats. 

Mr and Mrs Beamer lived next to us on one side. Mrs Beamer would scream from the inside of her house ” You kids should shut up!” Mr Beamer had a tattoo of a dancing hula girl princess on his arm. He made her dance when he flexed and said it was me. 


We had a milkman in a big white truck who bribed me with bottles of pop to tell my aunt he liked her. She was never interested but I didn’t let on to him and ruin our arrangement. I’m not so old that this service was regular or in any way normal. Somehow my mum found a company to deliver milk and stuff like that to our house. She was always good at finding that kind of thing. I can’t imagine to this day why she didn’t want to drag all four of us to the store every week. 

Our backyard was enclosed with a white fence. My dad went crazy one year and painted the fence, the kitchen, the stair rail and the outside of the house purple. Wow that was something to see. 

When our fridge died one winter Dad refused to replace it and made us put stuff on that purple backyard fence outside. Isn’t that crazy? That was Dad for you. 

I remember so many things so clearly about the house I lived in until I was 17. I guess there weren’t only bad memories after all. 

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