Hullo, Olive

It is a cold winter morning in Toronto, sometime in the mid-1940s. My grandfather clears the final few shovelfuls of snow from his driveway.

He looks at his watch. He is running a bit behind. If he doesn't catch the next streetcar, he'll have to drive to work.

He sees his neighbour's yard still full of snow. A recently widowed mother of one, she has to get to work this morning, too. Grandpa picks up his shovel and begins to clear her front walk.

Her door opens a crack.

"Good morning, Gerry!" calls the woman. She smiles. "What would I do without you?"

Grandpa stands and waves.

"Hullo, Olive."

****

Ten years later.

"No offense, Gerry," says Grandpa's boss, "but the prime minister and his wife are here to hobnob with the mayor and council, not us. Probably best that we keep a low profile at this reception."

Grandpa nods politely. He is a secretary in the clerk's office at the city of Toronto. A legendary fast typist, it's Grandpa's job to take the minutes at city council meetings. This fame isn't enough, apparently, to win an audience with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker or his wife.

"They're coming," says a voice from across the room.

The doors open. The Diefenbakers enter the hall. The prime minister is immediately snatched up by the mayor and a handful of councilors.

Standing demurely next to her husband, Mrs. Diefenbaker scans the room. Her eyes light up as they land upon a familiar face.

"Gerry!" she calls. "Gerry Trueblood!"

She makes a beeline past the waiting row of city councilors to my grandfather. She gushes over him as if he was the only person in the room. Grandpa's boss (and the row of snubbed councilors) looks on in shock.

"Hullo, Olive," says Grandpa.

8 comments:

Craig Wesley said...

And *another* great story, not only for your family, but as a glimpse of how the *people* once ran this country.

Dave Atkinson said...

Gotta be honest, I took some liberties in the telling of this one. Grandpa T died when I was a kid. My mum has told me the story a few times. The basics are true.

Capital Mom said...

This is a beautiful story.

karn said...

your stories help all my cloudy memories...

Val Crowdis said...

Dave,I love this story. Thanks for telling it. I'm also impressed that he was such a good typist.

Dave Atkinson said...

Thanks, Val. Rumour had it he could type 120 wpm on a manual typewriter. This may be more legend than fact, because wow.

Rob Hutten said...

Hey Dave.

Please write a bunch of books. Setting, subject matter unimportant.

No hurry, but, you know, I ain't gettin' any younger over here.

Jordan said...

This is awesome. Believe it or not, I'm a sucker for old family stories.