“Ryder, look at that BIG BLUE TRUCK!”



Let’s begin with a given: if you were raised on Dumfries Street (Galt), in the 1950’s and 60’s, and attended St. Andrew’s School for nine years you might just have developed a strong case of potty mouth.

In fact,  while roving the playground in Kindergarten little Grumpy was taught how to spell “ass” by a group of nefarious eighth graders.

“Grumpy, spell ass,” they would call to the impressionable five year old.

And, little Grumpy, aiming to please, would proudly respond “A-S-S, ass!”

They thought this was hilarious and howl with back slapping enthusiasm. Little Grumpy was as proud as punch that he could make these really big kids happy.

Grumpy also grew up in a family where most of his uncles swore like longshoremen and never ever put on a filter in front of the kiddies. And, it didn’t help that his own mother’s favorite expletive was the word “shit”, as in, “Oh, shit!” or just plain “SHIT!” You see Hellfire Helen grew up in the same house as her cussing brothers.

The only word our uncles never used in front of us was the F-word. That word was a sacred cow of sorts. Indeed, Grumpy heard his own father use this word only once. Grumpy was 18 and the two of them were working on replacing a gasket on this $100 Studebaker Lark Grumps purchased. When Old Joe banged his hand he softly said, “F * *K!”

Grumpy nearly fainted dead away with that. After all his father was longshoreman “light”. However, this was the first and last time “Whistling” Joe ever uttered “the F-word” in Grumpy’s presence.

Actually, Grumpy recalls the time years ago when teenaged son, Matt, and his buddy Dustin taught Josh (Grumpy’s youngest), “THE SECRET WORD.” The secret word was so secret that he wasn’t to use unless prompted by them.

They’d approach little four year old Josh and say, “What’s the secret word?”

Little Josh, like his father Grumpy, also aimed to please and would cautiously whisper back, “F*****K!

Indeed, we had our own code words back in the 1960’s such as substituting “Cheese and Rice” for the obvious blasphemes expression. Hence today’s use of “Frigging” and “Freaking” by another generation of citizens that cuss.

The bottom line is that Grumpy, along with his cousins and his friends in and around Dumfries Street could cuss with the best of them. Cussing became one of the “Grumps” worst habits, and it was difficult at first for him, as a classroom teacher, to maintain a strong filter. Nevertheless, over nearly thirty years in the classroom it was rare that he’d “slip”.

Now, what went on within his Dumfries Street head was a different story.

For example, when he’d say to a student, “Stop that now or you’ll be spending time with me after school, young man!” his mind was saying, “Cut that out you little as*h*le, before I FN brain ya. You’re such a little pr*ck!”

That’s a filter my friends.

Actually it was funny when a former St. Andrew’s student met Grumpy as an adult. The guy was probably four or five years younger than Grumpy; likely in Grade Four when Grumpy was in the Eighth.

He asked, “So what are you doing now, Grumpy?

Grumpy responded, “Well, I’m an elementary school teacher.”

With eyes wide and expression of shock he said, “Really?”

I guess he couldn’t believe this given Grumpy’s track record and street urchin appearance as a twelve year old. You see, St. Andrew’s playground was a “survival of the fittest” bully infested prison yard. It was a kill or be killed s jungle out on the yard.


Every recess you could hear the cry of, “Fight, fight, fight” and then view the gathering mob of spectators surrounding two combatants.There was a lot of blood spilled on that playground over the years.

Grumpy was smart enough to hang with a group of tough guys. The toughest of them all was Kenny Cripps. We roamed the playground like super heroes, garnering respect and adulation. We also provided “protection” for a lot of our less aggressive friends. Kenny was like Robin Hood and we were his band of Merry Men.

Thank you for that, KENNY!

(BTW, Grumpy actually ended up teaching both of Kenny’s children: Kasey and Corby.)

Grumpy rarely had to put up his “dukes” except of, of course, with Kenny, who liked to wrestle, punch and play fight. A play fight with Kenny could leave you bloody and bruised. But, the outcome was that Grumpy was a lot tougher because of his training in hand-to-hand combat and the constant sparring with Kenny.

Nevertheless, Grumpy suspects being associated with a foul-mouthed gangster-like group of tough guys brought on that response of “Really?” from that younger guy. He could not believe that Grumpy had cleaned up his act enough to actual TEACH children. He probably assumed Grumps was out on a weekend pass from the big house.

“Really, you’re a teacher?” he said again.

“FN right,” Grumpy responded, easily reverting to the rap picked up in the hood.

 Now, you probably are wondering where this ramble is leading.

Well, Grumpy is now a Grandpa in the care of a two year old child. It goes without saying that he needs to apply a strong FILTER to his language or he will be in big trouble with his little girl and her mother. He doesn’t need little Ryder expressing any “secret words” or otherwise. The word “POOP” is the only exception because that really makes Grandpas and two year olds laugh.

“Did you poop, Ryder?”

“Ha, ha, ha, nooooooooo! Tee hee hee!” the little gaffer giggles.

Nonetheless, being a senior citizen, a charter member of the Od Fart Fraternity and being just plain Grumpy at times, causes problems. This bad attitude often has the Grumps regressing into the full blown expression of that Dumfries Street homeboy lingo.


“You’re tailgating me, as*h*le!”

“I can’t get this FN sock on, honey!”

“The GD dog wants out again! GEEEEZ!”

“Cheese and Rice, I can’t find my keys!”


You get the picture. The frustrations of life at 64 bring out the worst in Grumpy.

So, just the other day, with Ryder deposited in the car seat in the backseat and the Good Wife driving shotgun, the “poop” hit that proverbial fan.

We were entering the parking lot at Tim Horton’s in Port Dover. It was so busy there was actual gridlock in and around the drive-through line. The Good Wife exited the vehicle, suggesting that going inside to get our coffee would be faster. Grumpy would find a place to park and all would be well with the world.

Well, not quite.

You see when Grandma leaves the car Grumpy’s filter goes out the window with her. When she’s sitting in the passenger seat, her very presence reminds Grumps to tone down his language. It’s like his “cue” to speak properly.

However, when it’s just Grumps and Ryder in the vehicle, Grumpy often forgets that his grandson is even there. He becomes focused on the environment outside, always looking for someone, somewhere to piss him off. This is what old guys do.

And, that’s just what happened.

Grumpy spotted an empty parking spot up ahead. The drive through line was blocking easy access. No problem, once the line moved forward a wee bit, Grumps would slip in. That was his plan until a guy in a pickup truck decided to bail out of the line and take Grumpy’s spot.

An outraged Grumpy, with his face turning scarlet, yelled the loudest F-bomb in the history of F-bombing.

“F******K!” he screamed. “That was my spot!”

Instantaneously, as if there was an echo in the car, he heard the little parrot in the backseat sweetly say, “F**K!” Then, after a long pause, he said, “F**K”, again and then again.

It was not unlike what happened earlier in the day when Grumpy taught Ryder the two syllable word “eyebrow” and his grandson, liking the sound of that word , repeated “eyebrow” about a gazillion times. Each time he said it he got louder and louder.

But, now Grumps was in trouble because this Ryder repetition routine now sounded like, “F**K, F**K, F**K, F**K, F**K!”

And, upon each repetition, the volume was going up and up and up!

Out of the corner of his eye Grumpy spotted his Good Wife strolling toward the vehicle, coffee in hand. It was then that Grumpy envisioned “death by a thousand cuts” or worse.

The situation required quick thinking. It required some type of logic that Grumpy has never been known for. But, with street smart savvy, Grumps did come up with a plan.


The teacher toolkit never leaves you, you see!

“No, Ryder,” Grumpy stammered, “I said that TRUCK took my spot. See the TRUCK over there. It’s a big TRUCK! It’s a BIG BLUE TRUCK.”


With a quizzical expression, witnessed by Grumpy in the rear view mirror, Ryder repeated a long drawn out, “TTTTRRRRRUUUUUCCCCCK?” His little voice escalated from low tones to high tones.

“Yes, Ryder, do you see the BIG BLUE TRUCK?”

“Boo truck,” he smiled. “TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK!”

Just then, the Good wife slid into the passenger seat.

Grumpy looked at Ryder and said, “We saw a big truck, Grandma. It was a BIG BLUE TRUCK, wasn’t it Ryder!”

 “Yaaaaaaa,” he cooed. “Boo truck, gamma! TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK, TRUCK!”

Later, as he always does, Grumpy confessed his transgression to both his wife and daughter. He promised to be more careful while in the care of is grandbaby. They both nodded using an expression that could melt metal.

Translated it would say, “You can bet your life on that, Grumpy!”

The bottom line is, that when it comes to a debate about whether it’s “nature” or “nurture” that makes you the person you are today, we’ll chalk this one up to “nurture”.

Really, Dumfries Street had big role to play towards making Grumpy what he is today and that’s pretty hard to shake 64 years later. I’m afraid Grumpy’s “Ka Ka Mouth” is here to stay, at least until he gets his filter working at 100% efficiency. But, like anything else as you age, the prospect for getting things working at 100% is very unlikely.

You can rest assured that the Good Wife is monitoring the situation. You see, Grumpy is currently on PROBATION!


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