Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.
If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/
Here is the second of the posts I have selected from the archives of D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies who is a regular contributor to the blog with her travel column and also as a guest comedian… I enjoyed this post when I read it on Debby’s blog and I am sure you will too.
Miss Toronto 1926 – My Grandmother by D.G Kaye
I’ve written a lot in my books about my relationship with my mother and had touched on tidbits about her mother, my grandmother Dorothy who died shortly after my mother’s 15th birthday .
My mother had a knack for ‘expanding the truth’ whenever she chose to share a snippet of her life, so as I got older and caught on to her delusional stories, I had to do my own searching around for truth, mostly from my aunts while they were still living. But luckily, my sister-in-law, Katy, is a great FBI sleuth herself. She obviously found our erratic and dysfunctional family history fascinating when she married my brother and conducted her own search and found out much more than even I was told.
One story in particular was about my grandmother apparently, winning the very first Miss Toronto Beauty Contest in 1926 held at Sunnyside Amusement Park. Pictured below is my grandmother standing as a runner up to the far right. The story told to me by mother was that her mother had actually won the contest and was deemed the first Miss Toronto until she was disqualified and became a runner up when it was discovered that she was married when she entered. This of course turned out to be another lie my mother loved to boast about because of course if her mother didn’t win, there had to be a reason. In the photo my grandmother was 21 years old. (Late correction, either the newspaper got it wrong, or my grandmother fibbed about her age because she was only 17 in the pageant)
My grandmother, Dorothy (nee) Asling , far right, sporting a bob hairdo. Photo was sent to me from the Toronto Star Newspaper.
Back in the day, being skinny wasn’t a factor required to either enter or win a beauty contest. And despite my mother telling her tall tales, anybody who knew my grandmother had told me she was considered a striking beauty. In fact, Katy sent me this article clipping from an interview the Toronto Star did with my grandmother before the final competition when it was down to 5 contestants.
This is all I know of my grandmother, from how she spoke in the article interview in this post I can almost hear that little air in her voice that my mother had of herself. Dorothy was apparently a very popular girl who had many men vying for her attention, and although she tried to sound modest and naive in this article, I could hear my own mother in her words, particularly in the paragraph where the journalist seemed to detect the same thing when they thought Dorothy knew well that this would be printed
Article interview with Dorothy Asling from Toronto Star Newspaper August 16, 1926, journalist unknown. From the archives.
I’ve heard so many controversial stories about the life of my grandmother and have had to make my own deductions from comparing versions of stories my mother told me and relaying them back to my aunts for verification and authentic versions. Apparently, my grandmother was a real live wire, who, according to this article, may not have smoked, but loved to drink, party and gamble. She was the life of all parties, and the complete opposite of what I know of my grandfather, who was meek and mild mannered, and a very handsome man. Dorothy was the love of his life and he never married again because he never stopped loving her.
I notice similarities in Dorothy’s physical stature to my mother and some of her siblings.
My mother was a dark beauty like her mother and she even had the same mole on her left cheek, which she emphasized with a black kohl eyeliner as it appears her mother did too. Back when I was a child I remembered that mole as my mother’s ‘signature’ beauty mark.
Another prominent feature of my grandmother was her ‘thick’ upper arms. I wrote in humor in my book, Meno-What? Memoir, about the women in our family nicknamed ‘the arm family’, which I had crowned the name to all of us – sister, female cousins and aunts, because no matter how slim any of us could be, we all had thick upper arms. Thank you grandmother Dorothy, not.
I’ve never seen another photo of my grandmother other than this photo that my Aunty Sherry ordered copies of years ago from our Toronto newspaper to give one to each of her nieces. So naturally, I’ve looked at it a million times and analyzed the heck out of it.
My sister-in-law Katy had done research on my family tree and had obtained copies of my mother’s lineage when she got curious about the ongoing lie my mother had told me and stood true to till the day she died, that I wasn’t conceived out of wedlock, and that her mother was Jewish. In fact, Katy had given me a copy of my parents’ marriage licence she obtained, confirming my suspicion that my mother was indeed 2 months pregnant with me when she married my father. I was also flabberghasted to find that in the little box where they tick off and state their religion, my grandmother was born and raised as a Baptist. I’d already obtained confirmation from my aunts on these factors, but looking at the actual document was a confirming piece of my family history.
There were so many tales spun by my mother to create dramatic effect to every story she told. And still, I truly believe her stories were not only to attract wow factors or sympathy, but also that she had spent her life creating stories to the point where I honestly believe she believed her own stories. She had such a dire need to be more than what she was.
Below are a few photos I plucked out of an old photo album – the women in my life as well as 2 more clippings of Dorothy that my sister-in-law managed to get copies of.
Me at 2 years old. I’m thinking the look on my face says something about my mood and environment.
The ‘dark’ beauty, my mother at my Sweet 16
My hero, my beautiful Aunty Sherry (Shirley) at my Sweet 16 having a toast together
My beautiful Aunty Lee at my Sweet 16
Dorothy Asling my grandmother, 2nd from the right.
A ‘popular entry’ Dorothy Asling
Sadly, all I know of my grandmother is from these articles, and they are the only photos I’ve ever seen of her. Had she not been a beauty contestant, I wouldn’t even know what she looked like.
©D.G. Kaye 2017
A wonderful post and I hope you will share your memories of your grandmothers in the comments.. I am sorry Debby never got to meet hers…as definitely a resemblance.
Debby writes a monthly travel column here on Smorgasbord and you can find all her articles: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-travel-column-with-d-g-kaye/
About D.G. Kaye
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.
Books by D.G. Kaye
One of the reviews for Meno-What? A Memoir on Goodreads
What a treat of a memoir. For men it helps to learn about one horrendous phenomenon that women are punished with, and for women to be warned or reminded of what is to come, and most of all: for all of us to laugh. As the author puts is herself: Laughter is the best medicine, especially in something so unpredictable and unavoidable as the menopause.
Kaye writes with her signature style of honesty and humour, not pulling her punches and telling it is like it is. She describes the stages of the menopause and how she dealt with them and what the alternatives are; all the while keeping it light-hearted.
A quote: “this menopause **** is going to cost you extra bucks in the beauty department..”
Hers is a refreshing and wonderful approach. Having lived through it and having ridden the storm the natural way, she shares a lot of well researched information that led to her chosen and described choices in the battle with the menopause.
I must say, I did not expect this subject to be so enjoyable to read as it is. This contains sound advice, is practical and has a welcome focus on the best way to deal with this emotionally
Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
Connect to Debby Gies
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
My thanks to Debby for allowing me to share her archived posts and there will be another next Thursday.