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Blue Suede Boots / All About my Mother

Posted on May 06 2017

My mother was a force to be reckoned with. She was a Tasmanian devil embodied in a small, well put together, redhead. She had a tumultuous relationship with everyone around her. No one more so than me. The old mother-daughter thing. It really is a huge thing.

Having come to Toronto at the age of 13 from the tiny town of Westry, Ontario she was totally enamored with the city. My mother was a fan of Toronto’s food and culture scene before Toronto knew it had a food and culture scene. She loved to visit small independent art galleries and follow this up with dinner in a newly opened restaurant in Yorkville. It was the early seventies and there were actual hippies in Yorkville. Very cool scene. I was her companion during many of these outings and these are my fondest memories of my mother.

There is one other memory of my mother that really sticks with me and, I think, illustrates her essence. I was about 12 years old walking home from school at 3:30 in the afternoon. As I approach our house I hear screaming (not unusual). Okay, I have to explain something here: we lived in a huge old Victorian in the Annex that was owned by my grandmother. My father’s mother who lived next door.

Picture this: my mother is standing in the driveway in front of our house. She is wearing a bra, silk briefs (both of a nude tone) and a pair of thigh high blue suede boots. My grandmother is standing on her veranda (fully dressed in Italian grandmother gear: cat’s eye glasses, nona dress and apron). They are screaming at each other. Neighbours are taking in the scene of the day. Bemused but not shocked.

I was neither bemused nor shocked; I was just embarrassed. It was a familiar feeling. This kind of shit went on regularly. I have no idea what they were screaming about but I think it may have had something to do with my mother’s outfit.

When I think back on that day I cannot help but love this memory for its absurdity and wildness. For her wildness. And I cannot help but wonder about those blue suede boots. They were cobalt suede over-the-knee beauties. Where did she get them? What happened to them? What I wouldn’t give to have them now!

Physically and through osmosis our mothers leave their mark. I often see my mother’s face when I look in the mirror now and it still unsettles me. It’s like a check-in of sorts. A reminder to take stock of who I am. That’s what good mothers do; they challenge you to become more, even after they have passed on.

Mothers are big givers. Mine gave me her love of food and culture, her distrust of the Man, and her sense of style. Books, art, design, fashion, ethnic food. Her love of these things rubbed off so well that these are the things I try to share with my own daughters. She left a legacy of style and substance that embraces the classic and the unfamiliar. Something I continually try to achieve at Buck’s. When I find those blue suede boots, I will buy the biggest case pack available, put them--front and centre--in the store window, and they’ll be calling your name. Look for it.

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