Bannock, Beans And Black Tea

September 13, 2004 | Comics


Bannock, Beans And Black Tea
Seth, John Gallant
Drawn & Quarterly
$24.95 (hardcover)
**** (out of five)

Johnny Wilfred had a childhood most people nowadays couldn’t imagine.
Growing up in depression-era Prince Edward Island, Johnny’s family (his grandparents, parents, five sisters and one brother) was so poor they could barely afford to feed and clothe themselves. They had so little that Johnny had to drop out of school after Grade 2 because he had no shoes.
And when you had little money in this era, you survived on the cheapest foods that made you the most full: bannock (a flat loaf of unleavened bread), beans and black tea (because milk and sugar are extravagances).
Johnny Wilfred, A.K.A. John Gallant, with a great deal of help from his famous illustrator son, Gregory, A.K.A. Seth (It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken, Clyde Fans), has committed to page some wonderful tales of his upbringing. Some are funny, others tragic and many are bittersweet.
But the overwhelming feeling you will be left with after reading about the 20-odd years Johnny had to live in dirt-poverty — slaving away at odd jobs, snaring food to survive, staring at the road for entertainment — is gratitude.
This memoir will make you grateful for all you have and all you’ve ever had. It is a swift kick in the butt for all those who think they’ve got it rough.

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