Why Bob and Mary hung a banana over the balcony

Bob and Mary gave me some of my best childhood memories. I only knew them for a few years and last saw them when I was about 4 years old. That’s when my brother was born and we moved to a bigger apartment.

But until then Bob and Mary were a big part of my life. They were an older couple, living upstairs in the apartment building my parents lived in when I was born. It was an “adults-only” building – something that’s illegal now – but nobody complained about my being there.

In fact, my presence seemed to fill up the building a bit, from what I’m told. I wasn’t a particularly noisy kid, but I wasn’t shy. And a kid gives adults something to focus on.

I remember Trudy – she was a bit of a health nut and made her own carrot juice. I thought she was very glamorous and exotic with her Swedish accent. She used Nivea crème and to this day every time I smell it I remember her.

There was a family called the Domettes, if I remember the name correctly. They ran a barber shop up the street. They had some older daughters who made a bikini for me.

On my first Hallowe’en, or at least the first I remember, when I was about 3, my parents dressed me up as a witch and took me to the apartments of the people I knew. Since there were no other kids in the building, they all went out and bought treats specially for me. I got full-sized chocolate bars and lots of oohs and aahs.

And then there was Bob and Mary. I don’t know whether they had any kids or grandchildren of their own. Maybe they did and were very generous people. Or maybe I was a surrogate.

Bob and Mary provided me with my first memory of surprise and delight.

Bob and Mary provided me with my first memory of surprise and delight.

Either way, one of my first memories was of looking out the balcony window and seeing an orange floating in the air. Pure magic. We lived on the ground floor; they lived a few floors above us. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow they attached the orange to a string and dangled it over the edge. Fishing for a reaction and a small child’s laughter. I bit – and squealed with delight. One of my parents took me out to the balcony and untied the orange.  They waved up their thanks – and the string was hauled up and disappeared.

Other days they’d attach a banana. Or a little red, plastic lunchbox filled with lollipops. A small box of animal crackers.

I’ll never forget the sheer delight and anticipation of looking out the window, wondering what I’d see. I don’t think we kept in touch with Bob and Mary – from what I understand they moved back to Nova Scotia in their declining years, to be with family.

Bob and Me

Bob and Me

But while they were in Toronto, in those few short years I knew them, they left this little girl with a sense of feeling very special.

Thanks, Bob and Mary, wherever you are.



  1. What a great post – all the people who fleetingly move through our lives but make a lasting impression. Wonderful memories!

    1. Hey, Peggy, So true. It’s amazing how much influence those chance encounters can have. There are tons of those types of stories out there … I bet we all have a few…

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