It is possible that you have seen a rather peculiar woman walking around the streets of Hamilton over the last four years. If you have, I hope you gave a wave…because I am she.
So on Saturday, May 4th I felt like a semi-professional street walker. I co-lead a Jane’s Walk down Barton Street. Luckily I was walking with Rachel who had a vast knowledge of the history of the area and the up-to-date news of the goings on that are going on. I was more or less tagging along but I hoped to add some interesting bits along the way and I had promised to reveal a secret that I had discovered about Barton Street.
So Saturday morning dawned drizzly with threatened rain but I said I would be there and I was. It was nice that there was a group of almost 20 of us marching down Barton Street from The Lotus and the Bee to River Trading Company. I was happy to share with the folks about why Barton, though oft-maligned, became one of my favourite streets during my walking project. You see, during my walking project I was supposed to walk in that area but there had been some violence in the area during the night before. I questioned myself whether it would be wise to walk in an area that had a bit of a ‘reputation’ but I was humbled when I went for my walk there. It was just regular folks out and about. People crossing the street at the same time as I was or people who were walking their kids to school or homeowners putting out their trash or waiting at the bus stop. I only met kind people.
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Our daughters Laura and Karen and granddaughter Callie showed up for the Jane’s Walk, along with two Alice’s from our church. John and Mary Terpstra were there as well. John is a well-known local poet and I have attended a number of his readings (I am pretty sure that the word stalking did not come up – but I confess that it could have)
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And now for the secret. At our starting point, we were across the road from a location that was mentioned in one of the stories in the second collection of short stories that I am a part of with my fellow writers of the Hamilton Mountain Writers’ Guild.
Our guild is divided into smaller groups and Neil Chopp is in my group. We read each other’s work and offer peer critiquing and feedback to each other. I remember reading Neil’s story The Endowment Effect and thinking that he was probably going to win – and he did. I confess that I am not a huge fan of horror stories but I was so captivatied by the story he wove. At one point in the story, he reveals what happens to the main character Lorcan.
Those words were spooky enough but when you are across from 307 Barton Street East you cannot help but look in the window. A little bit of misdirection and then you see it – next door – is the cup that you are looking for.
If you perchance look a little closer you see that the cup could not possibly be Lorcan because the cup is a ‘happy 50th birthday’ type cup and Lorcan would not likely be that kind of cup.
And then you remember that it is just a story – a made up story – intended to entertain us (and possibly scare the socks off of us) (methinks there are now a number of sockless people running around out there)
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On our walk, we stopped at St. Matthews House and heard from Renee Wetselaar who talked about some of the meaningful ways that they were trying to impact their neighbourhood for good.
We saw murals and heard about the interesting businesses and social enterprises along with that small piece of Barton Street.
We stopped at the fire station. The firemen had kindly pulled out their big red fire engine so I could ‘touch a truck’ and we were able to say thank you to them for their service with a round of applause.
We ended up at the River Trading Company where I had some copies of our book available for purchase. I also lured them in with free laundry soap samples (see Confessions part 12)
It was a fun experience where I was able to walk and talk at the same time. Who knew?