A Room of One’s Own

As a child, I was fortunate to have a father who had a good job and a mother who had good taste.  This facilitated a number of things to my benefit: plentiful food on the table, a charming and well-appointed wardrobe and a lovely big bedroom in the bungalow on Pyramid Crescent.
I was an only child until the age of nine. This put me in quite a position to be spoiled by mother and father.  I was Daddy’s little girl and Mommy’s little angel.  I had lovely ringlets and big green eyes and was not shy with it, so people were generally drawn to my chattiness, my sweet demeanour and my little coquettish smile.  My grandmother apparently thought I was too fussed over and even my aunt warned my mother that she spent too much time worrying about me and not letting me be a kid like my cousin, Janis.
For most of my childhood, youth and young adulthood, I had the most wonderful bedroom. In it, I spent many happy hours reading the likes of the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie, colouring in my bird and animal colouring books, playing with Barbie and Dawn dolls and later doing homework, dressing up for dates and gearing up for nights out on the dance floor.
Mine was no ordinary little girl’s room. When we first moved to the brand new house in the 60s subdivision of Sheridan Homelands, I had the big back bedroom with the hardwood floor and a large sliding window with a view to the backyard and the public junior high school beyond.  Many mornings I woke to the sound of my favourite birds: the robin, the cardinal and the blue-jay. I would watch as the buses pulled into the schoolyard each morning, just before I headed up the road to St. Francis of Assisi, Catholic school, on foot.
The decor was not typical for a child. There was no ornate, girly white furniture, like my friend Jane T had in her bedroom.  There was no captain’s bed with storage underneath.  My room was furnished with twin beds handed down from my cousin.  They were serviceable, Colonial-style, stained-wood with box-spring and mattress and my mother kitted them out with funky, floral sheets and cherry-red whaled corduroy bedspreads.  The walls were papered in pink and white stripes and the window was draped in the most unique fabric of heavy cream linen with brush-stroke pink and navy-blue women’s heads in stylish hats. I spent many moments staring at those heads and imagining myself in those hats.  Perhaps this is why I love hats so much today.
big eyed
Click pic for Flickr source.
Artwork was also a feature in my fantastic bedroom.  Those ubiquitous doe-eyed girls in harlequin and ballet costumes framed in narrow rectangles were paired up on the wall of my room.  I had a favourite grey-wood framed,  faux-oil of two cats with sad eyes in pride of place over my bed. Always, there was a frond of dried-up Pascal palm tucked in behind the frame to keep me mindful of my faith.
When my three-year old adopted sister came into my life, I soon realized that I would have to share my bedroom with her and I was not a bit happy.  Pretty soon, she was in the bed next to mine with a collection of new stuffed toys to rival my own menagerie of Teddy, Doggie and Pinky the pajama-bag poodle.  Then it was a trip to Hanover, Ontario to Smitty’s furniture where we picked out a huge royal blue painted modular dresser with matching cube night-tables in blue and white and matching blue and white ladder-back chairs. 
It sounds awful to admit it now, but I was not a very nice new sister.  Once the novelty of having her around had worn off, when we were in the privacy of my room (because I still thought of it as MINE) if she were making funny noises and I couldn’t sleep, I would pinch her nose to get her to close her mouth.  (This doesn’t work with husbands.  I don’t recommend it if you think your mate has Sleep Apnea – get a CPAP, or better yet, move to another room.)
It turns out, my sister had adenoid problems and she had to go into the hospital and have them removed. (Well, at least I had MY room back for a spell anyway.)  She did come back though and so we had a few years of tussles and sibling scuffles for a number of years until we were teenagers and she moved into her own room next-door with the big double bed reserved for my grandmother when she came to visit from Cape Breton. I got MY room back.
In my teendom, I outgrew the pink stripes and the red spreads.  I had seen mural wall-paper in a magazine and I really liked the look of an autumn forest.  I convinced my dad to buy it and to redecorate my room.  It was fantastic!  It covered one wall completely and the rest of the walls were painted in a neutral taupe colour.  I loved to lie and look in wonder at those paths through the gold-leafed woods.  Not surprisingly, I often thought of Frost’s “Two roads diverged…”
The clunky cube furniture moved next-door with my sister and I reclaimed the old “silver-mink” mirrored dresser and upright dresser for my own.  It just went much better with the woodsy look.  I now had long, dark brown heavy drapes that kept the winter winds at bay with their rubber lining and the hat-ladies, sadly, went into storage in a wooden box in the basement.
There was one really strange thing about my new mural.  Lying on the bed one evening, I happened to scan the photo and my eyes came to rest in the top left-hand corner.  There, I could make out the image of a dark-haired, moustached man in a white shirt with a wide, dark tie.  I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but looking more closely, I could not deny that he was there.  Who was this fellow? I mused. Could he be the photographer putting his own image into his work for posterity? I’ll never know, but it was a little disconcerting to have this man who looked not a little like the Führer peering down at me from the top of my wall.
It seems I was never really meant to have a room of my own, after all.
Kat Mortensen©2009  Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape


21 thoughts on “A Room of One’s Own

  1. I only had a room to myself for a little over 3 years before the “baby” [2.5 years younger] moved in. Problem was, she grew physically bigger than me and constantly threatened me with violence when the parents weren't around.Got a room of my own when I was 16. Got revenge when I was only 8. That's when baby bro was born and “baby” lost her status. 🙂


  2. Neat memories, Kat! I forked over a lot of baby-sitting money for Nancy Drew, too. I'm sure she was intended as a positive role model for girls, but she secretly always kind of ticked me off, she was so bloody perfect at every single thing she ever did. There, I've finally got that off my chest!


  3. This was great! I never had siblings at home. It sounds like we read many of the same books, despite being in different countries.That man in the mural does sound creepy, especially if you associate him with Adolph?I hope you and younger sister get on well now?Regarding the book you reviewed, what inspired you to read it?Just Curious…


  4. Thanks for your blast from the past! It brought back to me a few memories, such as the Bobbsey Twins. I had and read every one (I think) of the books. I also had squabbles with my little sister, who now, almost 60 years old, has developed0 into a bona fide tyrant. Some memories I prefer not to recall.


  5. What a great story. I am the youngest of eight children, with 5 older sisters. So I never had a room of my own until they all left home. By than I was a teen-ager. My two brothers shared one of the other bedrooms. When I finally got a bedroom of my own it was of course the smallest one. It had a daybed and a dresser with a mirror. No room for anything else. I hung most of my clothes behind the door. But, for a while it was my own bedroom. When my last sister moved, I finally got a bigger bedroom with a closet. And when I got married at age 17 (I was almost 18) I was back to sharing a bedroom. But, I got a whole house of my own… ; ) And I filled it with 5 children…. I guess I could say, I always liked sharing my bedroom…; )


  6. Loved this, Kat. So sorry it's taking me long time to get computer up & running, with fast internet. So I can 'follow' folks. BTW, I still want to do goodreads. Probably can't (still) until holiday time.I noticed the baby boomer book…you say you're not a baby boomer. But…you were born in 1961. In the States, boomers are 1946-1964 officially. Not in Canada? There are gradations within that largish #…anyway. Was curious.Off to errand (a verb:), but loved this visit over….will return soon.xoxoxoSusan


  7. Good memories of your room Kat…and all the decor. I think I would have a hard time remembering very many details like that. A few pop up every so often. Most of my childhood memories are of the “outdoors”. I used to like the mural look also. Lucky you to have it, except for the scary image. Glad to see you back posting!


  8. This is the first time that I have checked out this blog of yours. I loved hearing your descriptions of your room. The artwork on your wall is so familiar. I never had any of that work, but I know that I saw it in the rooms of some of my friends when I was young. You brought back the visceral sense of being a kid in the 60s.


  9. That is creepy, the guy in the mural I mean. I wonder why he was there? My mom always tried to give me a nicely decorated room growing up but I would never keep it clean. That drove her insane. lolHave a great Sunday!


  10. What an adjustment sharing a room! I absolutely love reading about your charmed childhood, Kat, pink and white striped paper and all. So fun to imagine you there with all the trends of the day. My mother hated those doe-eyed kid pictures. Of course I loved them, but alas, I had to look at Pinky and Blue Boy!!!


  11. I love those pictures! How lucky you were to have such a fun childhood room. The decor you had as a grade-schooler and as a teenager both sound awesome…especially the forest wallpaper. Thanks for sharing!


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