Raul Freitas

A wonderful day in the neighbourhood



It’s not the first time I’ve been called upon to write about the good ‘ol days in Toronto. Mine were in the 70´s right through to the 90’s. The 70’s, since I was a youngster, are where the best memories lie. All my friends lived on my street, or nearby enough to walk to, we hung around each other’s porches, played street hockey, wandered the laneways and played board games. Does anyone remember the familiar tune of the ice cream truck? What about the soda pop deliveries?When it was time to eat, it was mom calling us to come in.

In the Summer, we could actually go out after dinner to hang out until ten, if it was a weekend. No worries, no superstitions, no hassles. Even our parents knew each other and spoke on occasion. I can’t imagine playing street hockey today. With the traffic, we’d never even have a chance to set up. Even if we did, there would definitely be a neighbour or two who’d be calling the police because kids today are expected to behave like adults. I clearly remember the “no ball playing” sign on the street, but nobody paid attention to it, everybody went with the flow and accepted things for what they were. Nobody got hurt. The Summer was awesome in the evenings, people all out on their porches wearing the least amount of clothing possible due to the heat and humidity. Sometimes the conversations were from one side of the street to the other. People seemed to have time for their family and the others around them. I bring up those mental pictures and they always make me smile. It’s not like we lived in paradise, but everyone seemed comfortable, at least in the eyes of a 12-year-old.

Fast forward to the present, and although I haven’t resided in Hog Town for a great many years, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that nothing is like it was. When I say that I mean families. Families were the backbone of the city, and I’m talking about families from various backgrounds, working class. They’re what injected life into the city and kept it thriving. No one can expect things to consistently stay the same, there are always forces attempting to change the status quo, most often to their own benefit. I’m just questioning what the hell happened? Where are the families? Out of nowhere, seemingly, the homes are occupied by people who neither have kids, nor interested in who lives on the street. As long as everyone mows their grass to code and makes no noise, it’s all good.

The life has gone out of the city and the periphery has become bloated with those who can’t afford to go anywhere near the exclusive city that is now Toronto. Exclusive to those who drove up the cost of merely living to levels that only they could afford and thrive in. It’s all exclusive now, except those excluded are the vast majority. The relatively few who have money, have enough to keep the rest of us away, and if we insist, then we have to pay up. This formula, that clearly doesn’t work, is the scourge of the “World Class City”, as Mel loved to call it. So, what happened to Toronto? Money, in the hands of the few. No wealthy person worth their credentials will ever want to live next to the likes of us, so they price us out. No more families, no more ice cream truck.
Fiquem bem,

Raul Freitas/MS


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