Back Story + Cuts + Recipes

Back Story

I began the first draft of That Summer in Franklin in February 2000 at the Saskatchewan Writers' Winter Retreat, St. Peter's Abbey in Muenster, SK. I had two weeks there with none of those inevitable interruptions one has while writing at home.

I had these two main characters in my short stories who I really liked : Colleen from my then-unpublished short story, "One Friday Night" and Hannah from another unpublished story, "Miss Purity Flour". I needed a plot to knit these two characters together, who know each other from their work at the Brittania Hotel, and so I began writing, not knowing exactly where the story would lead.

Writing is a very strange thing. Sometimes you get writing and its like watching a movie in my head : you just write down what is happening, not knowing what is going to happen next - the characters take over the plot line and you don't know how it is going to end

Many drafts and many years later, the novel became what you read today : a novel about friendship and coming to terms with aging; about learning to accept life and all the punches it throws; about how things don't turn out the way you think they will when you are young.

I had a wonderful time, researching and reliving the fifties. As well, my research into the issues of dementia broadened my knowledge and helped me to understand my personal experiences with my mother's age-related dementia.

I hope the novel speaks to everyone and leads to a broader understanding of family and friendship - the joys, the complications and the heartbreaks.


Edited Out or Cut Scenes

Most DVD's have a section for "Edited Out or Cut Scenes" and I thought I'd like to include the three deleted scenes from earlier drafts of That Summer in Franklin.

The first, the "Incident with Colleen's dad", I removed before sending it to Second Story, mainly because it took place in the 1970's and I felt I wanted to keep the story moving between 1955 and 1995/96.

The second, "More History of the Britannia Hotel" describes the Britannia from 1926 until Bowen's widow sold it and was removed from a much earlier draft, sometime in 2001.

The third, "Cleaning out the Miller House" was removed by me during one of the last edits. It simply seemed too much at the end of an already long chapter.


1. "Incident with Colleen's dad" - reference in novel, page 13

'69 or '71? Why can't she remember the year? Her dad had been phoning the Seven Eleven, three or four times a day since her mother started there. One of those burning hot summer days and she had been out weeding barefoot in the garden.

"Phone's for you, Mom." Janet, eleven, calling from the back deck.

Always, it's like one of those movies going into slow motion. Colleen wiping her hands on her shorts, racing in, sure of some God awful thing. Her dad drunk, back in the hospital, worse.

"Didn't leave a thing for your dad to eat". Her Mom. "Bev's sick and I'm on for a double shift."

Taking her dad food wasn't on Colleen's list but then neither was washing her hair after breakfast so she could let it sun dry while she weeded the garden. Her crowning glory, shoulder-length blonde curls, a seventies thing.

She found "Mac & cheese" in the fridge. Told the kids she'd be right back. Janet was old enough to watch the other two for half an hour. Little Pam had wanted to go until Janet suggested Barbie's. No contest for a six year old. For months afterward when Colleen rehashed what happened with what if : what if she had put on slacks, tied her hair back, taken Pam with her. Would it have made a difference?

"You're a sight for sore eyes." He was sitting at the kitchen table, still in his dressing gown, already three sheets to the wind.

"I've brought you some lunch."

"Your mom's idea no doubt."

"She mentioned it."

"How about a beer."

"No thanks dad."

"Miss Goody Two Shoes."

"I'll make coffee."

He stared too hard at her as she poured water into the coffee maker; measured the spoonfuls. Before she left home, she hated him so much, had no idea whether he stared at her or not. She steered clear of him; kept out of his way; wouldn't even eat at the same table during the last couple of years. She wasn't so fanatic now and he was frailer, aging while they watched. Skin and bones. In and out of the hospital like a Mexican jumping bean. When she was feeling okay, she almost felt sorry for him. Even though she ended up living in the same town, she had her own life, her own family, Art. She didn't have to go into theatre she told herself over the years; her life was theatre. Pretending. Only Art knew about her pain, only Art had rocked and hung on to her when she fell into the pit as she called it, weeping for hours on end.

"How the hell did I produce a babe as gorgeous as you?"

"How do you want your coffee?"

"If I can't have a beer, right here on the table."

Colleen poured them both coffee and sat across from him, the table between them. On alert like a cat. Waiting.

" You could have made it in show biz."

"Mac and cheese," she said, pushing the dish and a fork toward him. "I heated it in the oven before I came."

"You would have been a star, you know that? A God damned star."

Star, smar. How many times had she heard that one?

Her father hadn't even lifted his fork and, when he leaned across the table in her direction, an alarm bell went off. He lurched at her as she stood to leave, grabbing her bare leg so she half fell onto him. The whole thing was like falling into a movie scene, unreal and yet she was in it. His unshaven face pressing into her neck, his hands grabbing at her, trying to pull her onto his lap. Without even thinking, she kicked him hard in the shins, slamming her shoulder against his head, pushing herself back onto her feet. She was lighter in those days, more agile. The chair tipped and he fell under the table, the chair blocking his way.

"Colleen. Colleen for God's sakes help me up."

She was out the door and into the car, wanting only to get away. She drove too fast, cutting through back streets over to the beach. Running, running down the sand, past kids and swimmers to the stony deserted east end, out into water up over her knees. The lake was deep, cold. She felt her heart pounding, her throat still so tight she couldn't make a sound. The awful pit was waiting for her. Calling her. But she had promised Art so many times, promised him she would never... A cold wave smacked her thighs. Icicle pains jabbed her ankles. Lake Ontario, freezing, even in July. When she could no longer stand the icy water, she turned back toward shore.

2. More History of the Britannia Hotel - Reference in novel Pg. 20

The Britannia was one of those grand old hotels built in 1926 when grain boats plied the harbor and Franklin still had aspirations of becoming the provincial capital. Nathaniel Bowen, a rum-runner turned gentry, spared no expense in erecting the three-storey brick structure. It sat on the southeast corner of Main and Victoria which ran directly down to the busy harbor.

Over its heavy, double-front doors, under a miniature bas-relief Victorian couple, he with suitcase, she with parasol, was engraved Respite to the Weary Traveller, June 20, 1927 AD. The stonework was superb, chiseled by a skilled Italian mason brought by Bowen from Chicago, the inscription so Bowen maintained, from an obscure nineteenth-century poem.

The high-ceilinged foyer with its magnificent glass chandelier, was paneled in rich mahogany with a long marble-topped front counter across the back. The deep-set window ledges facing south held Grecian style statues, and from two broadly fluted gold frames on the east wall, Queen Victoria and Sir John A. MacDonald held court. Between these two, doors opened into the Gentleman's Drinking Lounge, with a separate billiards and dart room at the back. On the foyer's west side, the upstairs bannister curved down carpeted stairs to an ornately carved newel post facing French doors opening into the dining room.

The sumptuous dining room had an elevated crescent-shaped section at its far end, a highly polished balustrade separating it with matching carved newel posts on either side of its three carpeted steps. Tables for two, four and six were covered in linen table cloths, serviettes folded in the shape of crowns, shining sterling silver flatware and, always, fresh flowers. The dining room chandeliers, although smaller than those in the foyer, were no less impressive.

The suites on the second floor were entered through heavy paneled doors, each with stained-glass transoms above. Each suite was almost a mini apartment, with a short inside front hall leading to each bedroom door. Inside the room itself, doors led to bath and dressing rooms, respectively. Each dressing room contained a vanity, double wardrobe and love seat. The bath, with its Italian marble tiled floor, advertised the most up-to-date claw foot bathtub and pedestal sink. The bedroom contained period furniture, including an elaborate liquor cabinet, a miniature icebox disguised as a chest of drawers, and a four-poster bed. Rumor had it that one room had a large mirror over its bed although no one, including the legion of maids and cleaning ladies that worked there over the years, would confirm or deny this.

The third-floor stairway could be closed off by sliding panel doors that slipped unobtrusively into the walls on either side. The rooms above, though less grand and without the separate front halls, still contained sumptuous furniture and fixtures.

Even during the Depression, the hotel remained open, although only the second floor, Mr. Bowen and his family moving into two of the third floor suites. The dining room was rented out as a meeting and party room for the few left with money to spend, while the billiards room was turned into a soup kitchen manned by the Salvation Army. A door was cut from the back of the hotel kitchen into the hall, almost directly across from the rear of the billiards room exit door. Homemade soup, and whatever else the Army had been able to gather, was heated in the hotel kitchen and trolleyed across to the billiards room, where men fresh off the rails sat next to road hobos, young and middle-aged and old, stock brokers next to plumbers next to farm hands. The Army had fashioned tables from old doors on saw horses, with an uneven collection of benches,stools and rickety chairs along the sides.

The billiards table had been ferreted away, whether down into the basement or upstairs, no one was ever quite sure, but it did reappear again in the late thirties, just in time for the pre-war glamour of soldiers on their way across Canada to Halifax. Girls and their handsomely uniformed recruits from Camp Borden and points further west didn't notice the slightly worn carpet in the dining room or missing pieces from several of the chandeliers. The soup kitchen was converted back to a beer parlour and the Gentlemen's Lounge, frequented only by the mayor and a few of his cronies during the Depression, became a café, complete with jukebox and ice cream counter. For a while, on Saturday nights, soldiers and their dates danced on the black and white tiled floor, doing the jitter bug and samba, spiking their Coca Cola with rum and gin from hip pocket flasks.

A few of the hotel's more illustrious artifacts had been compromised along the way. The statues were both gone, sold or pawned off during the Depression or as the war dragged on. The billiards table, too, was sold, some say right after Bowen received word of his son's death at Dieppe. Father and son had played almost every Sunday night from the time the boy was old enough to hold a cue, and Bowen was counting on his own flesh and blood to take over and run the place.

3. Cleaning out the Miller House - reference in novel - page 255

Janet drives back from Guelph to help that weekend with Pam making a trip from Sudbury on the Sunday. March Break at school. In spite of the stinking mess in the house, Colleen has a great time with her grown-up girls. Best to have them there one at a time, though. They go at things in totally opposite ways. On the weekend, Colleen and Janet start in on the house, room by room so that by the time Pam arrives, Sunday afternoon, each of them can pick out what they want: dishes, pots, anything that catches their eye.

Janet brings incense sticks and they stick them everywhere. It's still too cold to open windows for more than five minutes and the incense somewhat blots out the smell. Colleen has a checkered tablecloth and candles for the kitchen table. To give it a face lift; cheer it up. They order in pizza for lunch and listen to Enya on Janet's portable cassette player while they work. By the time Art arrives, after the store closes on Saturday, they're giddy with sorting and throwing things out: cereal boxes full of mouse droppings, mouldy who-knows-what from the fridge, over sixteen cases of empty twenty-fours, some in boxes, most not. The day's big surprise is found up high on the top row of kitchen shelves. A tarnished tea service and dishes Colleen had never seen. Almost a complete set. Janet lays them out on the kitchen table. Each is edged with a yellow border, multi-coloured flowers and leaves, dotted around inside. Colleen turns a saucer over and finds: Hindhead, England, Est. 1793.

"Maybe Aunt Lillian would know," Colleen says. "They might be worth something."

"Why don't you write her?" Janet is carefully stacking dishes according to type: dinner plates, salad plates, bread and butters, saucers, cups, serving dishes. "She wasn't anything like we thought she would be, was she?"

"Plays her cards close to her chest," Colleen says. " Runs in the family. Both families." She rolls her eyes.

" So I guess we should all be super tight-lipped kids," Janet adds, giving Colleen a hug. "Just to let you know. Officially. Pam and I would like some of these dishes."

They also decide that Colleen should keep some of the things that look valuable and are in decent shape and the girls can pick from the rest. The twins couldn't care less now, but they might later. Artie already said he wasn't in a head space for household collecting but asked Colleen to keep him a thing or two.

On Thursday afternoon, when she and Pam are going through the master bedroom closet, they find a slinky black, floor-length negligee in a box at the back.

"Woah," Pam says. "Do you think Nanna wore this?"

"Probably," Colleen replies, holding it up. "They were a couple of hot ones in their time."

" Nudge nudge, wink wink," Pam says. "You never told us... "

" Not exactly mom daughter chat, now is it?"

"I guess not."

"I used to hear them at night even when I was in high school." Colleen puts the negligee on the bed and stares at it. "My not-so-great early sex education."

Pam sweeps it up and waltzes around. "So who keeps it?"

"You," Colleen says. "With my blessing."

On Saturday, they order a garbage container unit and, with the twins and Art, haul out all the broken-down and pee soaked furniture, rugs and mattress. Besides the china and tea service, Colleen keeps a lamp, a couple of pictures and two boxes, one with photos, the other with letters, old clip-on earrings and any small thing she can't bear to throw out.

Even though most of the sheets and pillowcases are worn to the bone, Pam takes it upon herself to lug them into her car for recycling. The twins go for a box of old sheet music and even Art fishes out a few tools from the basement. Colleen stands her ground over the books; they all stink. No way she will have them in the house.

A month later, she finds some stashed in their attic, rather, she smells and finds them. She dumps the lot into a garbage bag, tying it and stashing it behind some old suitcases.


I have included, here, several recipes mentioned by Colleen in different chapters. I used recipes that I, myself, use and so am pleased to pass them on to you, the reader.

From Colleen I

Madge's Red Currant Jelly (From Helen Gougeon's Good Food, Macmillan, 1958)

8 cups stemmed, washed red currants
Put currants in a large pot. Add enough water to peek through top layer.
Bring to a full boil and remove from heat.
Hang in a jelly bag to let juice drip through. Do not squeeze bag.
The result will be 4 cups thick juice

Put 4 cups red currant juice and 6 cups white sugar in a pot and bring to a full boil. Add ½ bottle (I packet) liquid pectin and stir constantly. Bring to boil again and boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Skim fluff from top (this is lovely on toast) and pour into sterilized Mason jars. Turn lids only half until they pop, then tighten again. Makes 10 to 15 eight oz. jars.

From Colleen IV

Colleen's Curried Hamburger (from Linda's Cookbook, taken from a 1967 magazine)

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (can substitute celery)
2 or more tblsp curry powder
1 lb. Ground beef (I use organic)
1 tbsp flour
1 bullion cube or 1 ½ tsp beef powder dissolved in 1 ½ cups boiling water
1 cup raisins
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 bay leaf
2 to 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables
½ cup sliced or chopped almonds

Heat butter and oil in large heavy skillet. Add onion and green pepper (or celery) and cook until onion is just tender, about 5 mins. Add curry pdr and continue cooking for 3 mins, stirring constantly. Add ground beef and brown lightly, breaking up beef with a fork. Sprinkle in flour. Add bullion(or beef pdr) & water mixture, raisins, ginger, bay leaf. Cover skillet and simmer 15 mins. Add frozen veggies and almonds and cook 10 more mins. Remove bay leaf. Serve with hot rice.

Colleen's Chocolate Zucchini Cake (from The Complete Harrowsmith Cookbook)

2 1/2 cups flour (can use half whole wheat but then increase baking pdr by half)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup milk
1 cup ground nuts
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tblsp. orange juice

Combine four, baking powder , soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter, then beat in eggs. Stir in 2 tsp. orange rind, vanilla and zucchini.
Stir in dry ingredients, alternating with milk and nuts. Pour into greased bundt pan or two square cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees - 1 hour for bundt pan and 45 mins for square pans.

From Colleen V

Colleen's Chicken Cacciatora (from Five Roses A Guide to Good Cooking, Lake of the Mills Press, 1983)

1-3 lbs chicken, cut up, skinned if you wish
½ cup all purpose flour
2 to 6 tblsp olive oil, add as browning
1 cup chopped onions
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or pressed through garlic press
1-14oz can tomato sauce
1 cup canned tomatoes or equiv fresh, skinned and cut in quarters
1/4 to ½ cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

Coat chicken in flour and brown in olive oil until browned, over high heat. Remove chicken pieces and set aside. Add onion and garlic and saute over med heat until tender but not brown. Remove excess fat if any.. Combine remaining ingreds except mushrooms, in a bowl. Return chicken to skillet and pour tomato mixture over top. Cover and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is tender, about 45 mins. Add mushrooms 15 mins before end of cooking. Remove bay leaf. Serve with rice or noodles.

Colleen's Apple Pie

Apple Pie Pastry (from Helen Gougeon's Good Food, Macmillan, 1958)

1 cup shortening
1/4 cup softened butter
3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold water

Cream butter and shortening until well blended. Add sifted flour and salt gradually, creaming well. Add water and mix thoroughly. Mixture will be sticky at first and require considerable stirring.
When roll out, use plenty of flour on the board. It will never be tough and will keep in refrigerator for 10 days at least.
Makes 3 or 4 single crusts depending on size and thickness.

Apple Pie Contents (from Linda's cookbook)

Roll out two rounds of pastry, large enough to line and cover a 9 to 10 inch pie plate.
Core, peel and cut apples (a firm apple, Spies work well) into pie plate, just keep adding more until slices are heaped up in pie plate - at least 6 apples, maybe more, depending on fruit size.
Dab apples with butter, about 1/4 cup, I never measure
Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, again I never measure, just a good coating
Add top layer of pastry and press top and bottom edges together.
Puncture pastry with fork jabs or with a knife, just enough to let steam out.
Heat oven to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 mins
Lower heat to 350 degrees F and bake another 30 to 35 mins.
Serve hot with cheese or ice cream.

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