A story mailed to my 11-year-old granddaughter in Wakefield Quebec during Covid-19 isolation

by Jenny Doyle

When I turned three years old I got a brand new shiny red and white tricycle for my birthday. From the photo you can tell how thrilled I was with my new trike.

When I was about four we moved a few blocks away and around the corner to a newer house. My school was also a few blocks away, walking distance from my house. There was a boy in my class whose house I passed every day going to and from school. His name was Frankie De Savoie. I can’t remember his behaviour at school, but he must have acted out because I know I thought of him as a bad boy. One day outside his house he offered me some candy and he said he had stolen it. Frankie said it was easy to steal and he said he’d show me how. I knew it was bad to steal but I loved candy and I was intrigued. So we walked to the drugstore together. All the candy bars were on racks in front of the main counter where people paid for their merchandise. Frankie told me to wait until the store clerk was serving someone at the cash, and then just quickly grab what you wanted, put it in your pocket, and walk out of the store.

Easy! You had candy and you didn’t need money!

Another day I was at this same store with my mother and my baby brother who was in his carriage. I was on my trike. We left the trike and carriage outside the store. I really wanted a Cherry Blossom. They came in a little square box and are still sold today. If an adult ever gave me any money for candy, I would never choose one of those because you got so little for your money. But I loved them! They were so gooey and delicious! There was just one big problem that day. I didn’t have a pocket. So I ran outside before my Mum and put my Cherry Blossom on my trike seat and tried to perch over it with my skirt hanging down all around to hide it. Of course it was impossible to push the trike pedals if you weren’t sitting on the seat. When Mum came out, she noticed right away how awkward I looked, ard asked me what it was, and then discovered my Cherry Blossom. She told me I had to go and put it back. This time I was sure I would be caught. But it was just as easy to put it back as it was to take it! The box was a little squashed, however. I wonder if anyone ever bought that sat upon Cherry Blossom?

I was not deterred by this one incident. I led a life of crime, stealing chocolate bars, doll clothes, and even a comic book, until I was about ten. I was riddled with guilt and I think I willed myself to stop because I went to Sunday school where right and wrong were drilled into us, and also because my parents started giving me an allowance. I could finally buy my own junk and not feel guilty.

My parents had printed the address of our first house on the bottom of my trike with red nail polish. One day my trike was stolen from the sidewalk in front of our second house. I was devastated and missed it terribly. I was sure that whoever found it would see the address on the bottom and take it to our old house. I begged my mother to go to our old house and ask the new residents if it had been returned there. She suggested I go there myself and knock on the door and ask. I was shy and scared but I was desperate. When I knocked on the door, a very nice lady answered and smiled at me, and I could tell she felt sorry for me, but, no, she didn’t have my trike.

I had another unfortunate encounter with Frankie De Savoie. One day after school he lured me into his house on the pretense of showing me his electric train. He brought me down into his basement recreation room. His two younger brothers were also down there, but his mother was upstairs. He asked my to pull down my underwear so that he could look at me. I was too afraid not to do what he asked. He was Mr. Tough Guy. But as soon as he got the look he wanted, I pulled up my underwear and left. I don’t remember seeing his train. And I never went into Frankie De Savoie’s house again.