Priests in the Attic

The Official Blog for Elaine A. Small

About the Book

The opening page of my memoir, Priests in the Attic, states: “There were seventeen priests at my father’s funeral.” Yes, that is where my story begins and in some ways that is where it ends—three hundred pages later. But all is not doom and gloom: in between the laughter and tears, highs and lows, there is a rollicking story that jostles its way through showbiz dreams, hard-won successes and devastating losses. Short-term hopelessness combined with short-term homelessness are all caught up in a restless, pseudo-yearning to be “normal at any cost,” to somehow stop “wanting it all” and settle for the status quo. But underneath all of the struggles, unrecognized for years, there beats the heart of a pilgrim, a spiritual being who is longing to be free of burning ambition and worldly desires—and therein lies the emotional reality and truth of my memoir.

Priests in the Attic

The Royal York Hotel, Toronto, 1965

In the early 1960’s, after four years of studying voice at the Toronto Royal Conservatory, I had a short-lived but successful five-year career as a supper club chanteuse, singing under my married name of Elaine Steele at the best hotels in both the US and Canada, including the Royal York and King Edward-Sheraton hotels in Toronto and the Ritz Carlton Café in Montreal. Those were heady, exciting days that eventually came to a screeching halt. Read on…

Canadian Weekly, Toronto Star, May 8-14, 1965 —

“Little Elaine Sawchuk, a minister’s daughter who grew up in the north end of Winnipeg with a need for attention and a love for singing, could see only the magic in show business. She pursued it after becoming an X-ray technician, she pursued it after becoming a wife and a mother, but as Elaine Steele, one of the best supper club singers in Canada, … she had to pay a high price for the little bit of glamour and those moments of applause…”

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