I have always enjoyed a good party.

Last fall, my friend Margi McKay interviewed me as part of a Kingston Public Library project to have people select an old photo from their past and talk about it.  You might enjoy listening to the 22 minute interview.  I am happy to have it preserved.  Some day my grandchildren or great grandchildren will be able to hear me talk about my childhood.

And how things have changed in my lifetime.  I feel like a bit of a pioneer.  The TV set in the photo was the latest technology.  Now everyone has this in their pocket.

There is a link below to an edited version of the interview but if you have the 20 minutes, the longer interview is better as it is more thoughtful and complete.  You can access it by clicking on the photo below or here.


For the shorter edited version you can click here.  It is a bit more rushed and the editing sounds like I have had about 4 cups of coffee prior to the interview.  But in these days of shorter attention span, this works well.  Click here for the abbreviated version.

I talk about 448 Mornington Ave, London in the interview.  It is where the party took place. Here is my brother Bob and I on the front porch of that house about the same time.


London, Ontario Santa Claus Parade 1959

Here is a home movie of the London, Ontario Santa Claus Parade from 1959.  It is grainy and dark but that just adds to the mood.  We didn’t have HD video on iPhones back in the day.

LDN19620630_Heal_SlipperySlippery the sea lion escaped from Storybook Gardens in London in 1958 and swam down the Thames River, Lake St Clair, Detroit River and Lake Eerie to be captured in Sandusky, Ohio and returned to London. He was famous.


Gordie Tapp is a London- born entertainer who was prominent on CBC in those days on a program called Country Hoedown.   He later became better known across North America as a writer and performer on Hee Haw.  Gordie Tapp is now 92.

imagesBob Goulet was a Canadian-raised heartthrob who was born in the US.  His parents were from Quebec. He became  famous for his portrayal of Lancelot in Camelot on Broadway in 1960 with Richard Burton and Julie Andrews. His rendition of “If ever I should leave you” was his signature song.   In the early 1950’s he appeared occasionally along with  William Shatner on the Canadian version of Howdy Doody.  Bob Goulet died in 2007.

James Doohan (Scottie on Star Trek) was also a regular on the CBC’s Howdy Doody.  My parents knew his family and would sometimes come home from parties, saying that they had spent some time with him, having no sense of his fame from Star Trek.


Whipper Billy Watson was a Toronto-born wrestler who was very popular at wrestling events in Maple Leaf Gardens.  He was known for being a “clean” wrestler and fought the likes of Gene Kininski, Gorgeous George and the Sheik.  He was also known for his charitable work. He died in 1990.

Santa Claus has a broad face and a round little belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.  He is jolly and plump.   He lives at the North Pole.  Children like him.


Grandma Vardon’s Shortbread

Grandma Vardon was born in 1902.  She was so much fun.

My grandparents Vardon as I remember them on the porch of their house at 504 Grosvenor St.  1958

My grandparents Vardon as I remember them on the porch of their house in London at              504 Grosvenor St.  1958

When she was younger she played the piano in silent movies.  There is a story about the movie house catching fire during a showing and Grandma played the piano as patrons filed out until she gradually was overcome by smoke and fell off the piano stool.  In her later years she took up the accordion which she would tote to family gatherings and serenade us with Tennessee Waltz or any number of polkas.

I always waited at Christmas for her shortbread and have a recipe that I scribbled down as she told it to me in about 1970.  I am happy to share it with you and you can share it too. But if you do, please call it Grandma Vardon’s Shortbread.

It is so simple, but so good. And even better after it has aged a few days. I am going to make some this weekend and take them this Christmas to give to her great-great grandchildren!

Grandma Vardon’s Shortbread.Grandma Vardon's Shortbread

1 cup Brown Sugar

1 lb softened Butter

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp Vanilla extract

Cream well with a wooden spoon.

Add 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

and 4 cups of flour (not more)

Keep mixing until you have a soft ball. Turn out on a board and knead. Roll out flat and cut out cookies.

Cook at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes, watching closely as they brown quickly and it is easy to burn them.

We used to make these in circles and bells and Christmas trees and decorate them with sugar sprinkles or one of those little silver sugar balls.

This is a great way to remember my long-gone Grandma Vardon (1902-1973) at Christmas. It seems like yesterday.