A family owned pizza shop.
I honestly can’t remember how I started working for the Casson family at their pizza shop in Kingsway Garden Mall.
I know that it was before the summer of 1982 when I started in the Westfield Program.
There was Jackie Casson, Bonnie Casson, and Colleen Casson.
Jackie was the matriarch of the family. Bonnie and Colleen were Jackie’s daughters.
I know that I was working for them prior to the summer of 1982 as when I was in the Westfield program we had a school trip down to a Boston Pizza shop that was on 118th Ave and 127th Street. This trip occurred between the summer of 1982 and January of 1983. We were there to make our own pizzas. I already knew how to oil the pan and spread the dough, so this is how I know that I was working at Pizza Plus already.
My “duties” at Pizza Plus were to wash the pans. Oil the cleaned pans. Measure and cut the dough for the pans. And then stack the pans in the undercounter cooler. I’d also help with getting supplies out of the storage locker under the loading bay.
It wasn’t much of a job really. But it did give me a little spending cash and all of the pizza slices that I could eat.
I had a bicycle that I would ride down from Canadian Forces Base Griesbach at 137th Ave and 97th Street to Kingsway Garden Mall at 109th Street and Kingsway.
Even after grandma moved out, Richard would frequently drop my brother and I off with grandma to spend the weekend. Grandma lived over at 107th Ave and 111th Street. So walking over to the mall was easy enough.
I think that Jackie let me “work” there because she knew something was wrong at home and she felt sorry for me.
Jackie had a house in the west end of Edmonton and she had let my brother and I come swimming a couple of times.
I honestly can’t keep her two daughters straight in my mind, the ol’ brain is getting tired. I think that it was Colleen that owned a Triumph TR-7 sports car and she used to take me for rides around the city. And I’m pretty sure that it was Bonnie that owned the Pizza Plus that was in the food court at Cadillac Fairview place downtown.
In the summer of 1984 and 1985 when Richard had sent my brother and I up to Edmonton to spend the summer with grandma I would spend most of my time either working at Pizza Plus or pedalling the ice cream carts for Dickie-Dee.
In the summer of ’84 I went up north with a woman who was somehow involved with the Cassons. She ran a small pizza shop at a board of education building. I can’t honestly remember what town this was in. I’m thinking Bon-Accord. I would have been 12 at the time. I think I was gone for about a week. Funny thing was when we got back to Edmonton, my grandmother vaguely remembered me going but she was sure that I’d turn back up again.
The Cassons were great. Even though I couldn’t have been much value to them, they always made me feel welcomed. Which was far better than what I was getting at home. They kept me fed. And they gave me enough spending money to keep me out of trouble. The money I was making from the Cassons was enough to pay for games at the arcades or to let me go see a movie. It was money from the Cassons that allowed me to catch the city bus up to CFB Griesbach and then the shuttle bus up to CFB Namao when I tried to report P.S. to the military police for the first time in 1984.
In my foster care records it’s mentioned that my child care worker asked me in January of 1983 if there was anyone in particular that I wanted to go stay with after they removed me from the home.
I didn’t want to go live with my mother. I didn’t want to go live with my grandmother. I didn’t want to go live with my uncle. I wanted Jackie to adopt me.
And see, it’s stuff like this stuck in my head that haunts me to this day.
I could have been free of Richard. I could have been clear of the Gill family dysfunction. I could have received treatment for my major depression, my severe anxiety, and the effects of 1-1/2 years of sexual abuse on Canadian Forces Base Namao.
I could have gone to live with someone who was nice and who actually cared and who would have treated me the same as she had treated her own grown daughters.
There would have been absolutely no way that Jackie would have tolerated anything less than grade 12 for my education.
What my life would have been like or could have been like? I don’t know. All I can say for sure is that it would have been a hell of a lot more meaningful if the Canadian Armed Forces hadn’t interfered with my removal.
I could have had a normal life, but secrets needed to be kept.