Memories from a time long ago, before my younger brother was born in 1952, I was born in August of 1948. It's a beautiful sunny afternoon here in Vancouver, and as everyone knows, my level of "procrastination" is always at its best. It seemed like a good day to reach back in time and talk on my laptop. Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Scrivener and ProWritingAid as my tools. As time passes, I have many negatives that need to be scanned, which will allow the updating of this project. But it must get started, because if something happened, the stories could be lost forever. In less than 2 years I will turn 75.
Reaching back as far as possible, here are few short snapshots from the past. As time passes, I will update and revise this article. My first five or six years - before 'school-days'.
It was early afternoon on a sunny day. My grandmother took me into her bedroom in their old house up on the hill. I was put up on the bed and covered over. It was an iron bed frame painted white with leaves attached in different parts of the elaborate ironwork. The top corner of each bedpost was adorned with a small brass ornament. I remember, because I certainly wasn't ready to go to sleep. I remember reaching and playing for the little brass ornament. I could unscrew and screw it back on to the bedpost. The dry metal on metal sound as I did so. As I lie on the bed, I was facing west towards the bay window. Just outside the window. The entire wall of the house was covered with Virginia creepers. Such a mass that they would have partially covered the windows, although I can't remember that specifically. In later years the entire outside wall was overgrown.
It was probably midmorning on another sunny day. I remember a moment, standing by a trailer similar perhaps to this one that I found on the Internet. I remember my mother telling me that the two horses, the names of which she mentioned, are leaving. They had been sold. This was the last eventful day that horses existed on our farm. I chose this photograph of the trailer because it was from this vantage point on the passenger side facing backwards towards the front doors of Grandpa's old barn that my mother's words were spoken.
It was early morning on the farm. A time when the kitchen was still attached to the east side of my grandparents’ original farm home. As I opened the door to the kitchen, my grandmother called to me to come and sit on a chair just to the left side of my grandfather. Behind me was the old wood cookstove, the East corner of the room, where breakfast had been prepared. Grandpa was having his morning poached eggs and toast. Grandma gave me toast and marmalade. She then sat across from me next to my grandpa. Grandpa was just finishing his breakfast and was mopping up the soft egg yolk with his toast. I remember my grandmother's words, telling me that this was Papa's favourite breakfast routine, the part of mopping up soft egg from the plate with his last piece of toast. This memory is probably from a time they came out of Saskatoon to stay on the farm for a few days. Grandpa passed away in 1955.
Grandma and grandpa came up from Saskatoon for my birthday. I know this to be the day, because grandpa took me to Pendleton's store in Colonsay, and for my birthday, grandpa bought a shiny silver new bell for my tricycle. The ride was in the front passenger seat of Grandpa's 1949 blue Pontiac torpedo-back. It was parked beside the huge poplar tree alongside our driveway, facing the road. In the centre of the dash was a small clock. I was not tall enough on the seat to see much more. When we came back from town, Dad was finishing's project for the day. A welding project that involved cutting up angle iron and assembling it to make the frame, which then had tongue-and-groove boards attached. I suspect the same lumber that was used in the making of the one ton truck box extension for hauling grain. It was probably would just a few weeks before this, that our neighbour Johnny, from northeast of our farm came over with his new International Harvester one ton truck, and he and dad made the truck box extension for hauling grain, and slide out tailgate with grain chute. It was a loveseat style bench, with horse-drawn wagon seat springs under either end. It, for many years, sat in front of our house below the windows facing north. Painted a dark green, same paint that was used on the wood truck box extension.
It was late evening, after dark. I've asked my mother long ago about this memory, but she could not identify the surroundings which I described. She passed away in 1995, and the conversation asking her about the memory was perhaps a decade or two before that. Perhaps I think I've already figured it out. I would have been at that early age carried in. I remember us coming in the door and across the room through the next doorway into the next room were many people. This room we passed through was not well lit, but I remember to my left, as we passed by to the next room, the large squarish burgundy sofa. A Google search found such a burgundy sofa of that era, I've included it. After a brief time in the next room, I was brought back and placed on the sofa. It probably was not long before, despite the noisy conversations in the next room, that I fell asleep.
This would have been a special occasion in my grandparents’ home on our farm. The memory of walking across that first room and through the doorway into the next room matches my memory of the floor layout of the old house. We entered the southwest corner main entrance, walked across the living room, through the doorway and into the kitchen. The same kitchen that I previously mentioned, sitting by my grandpa as he finished his poached eggs and toast breakfast. This same burgundy sofa would have been the one in the living room in Saskatoon on Avenue K South.
From a past time. A time before, my grandparents had television. Why? Because the place where there television sat in the living room is where an antique desk sat and on a small lower left shelf was the family photo album. My parents would have gone out doing their afternoon shopping, and I was left with grandma. She took me into the living room, reached for the family album, and I sat beside her as she turned the pages. I have only one memory of that afternoon. She pointed to a photograph on the lower third of the left side page. "This is your father's brother Fred. Your father adored him. Your father followed him around like a little puppy. He was killed in an accident." As the months pass by, I must page through the copy negatives now residing in archives sleeves in a three-ring binder. Many decades ago, I photographed these pages and some of the individual photographs. On my to do list, is to go back into those negatives to recognize the photograph that would have been on the lower third left page. I suspect it will be the same photograph as a large picture which hung on the east wall of that living room, entered late that night. That same living room, in their old farmhouse. I suspect that that large black-and-white photograph of the young man with the Stetson type hat, was my uncle. The one killed in an accident. For those that have read my blogspot articles, it came to be understood that "it was not an accident." While on his deathbed, in the Humboldt Hospital, an individual confessed to committing the murder to my father.
A beautiful sunny day. It will soon be noon. My mother gave me the black metal lunch kit, dad's lunch and coffee. I would walk from the house to the distant field. The field was the rented quarter northwest of our farmhouse on the other side of the alkali lake, which was our swimming hole. I remember walking north of our yard over the hills, up and over a small steep outcropping, which was the farm’s gravel pit. Down the other side and perhaps almost another third of a mile down the farm trail. The tractor, an Oliver Super 70, was plowing in a north-south direction. The westerly portion of the pasture had already been plowed. I walked along the south side of the pasture until I reached the first furrow. It was perhaps 100 yards down the furrow. Dad stopped the tractor. We sat and had lunch. When my father took over the farm, he did not want cattle or horses. This recalled event was the plowing of the last pasture.
How old was I? I have no idea! But I remember the day. Dad had his multifunctional drill press/table saw setup on the grass in front of the chicken coop. This was on the north side of our garage, just past the woodshed. It was my job to carry would every day, and make sure that the wood box back at the house was full, and there was enough split kindling to start the morning fire. Today's project was from one of the Home Handyman Encyclopedia books. The making of a drawer, perhaps it was two drawers, installed under the nesting boxes. The careful cutting of Masonite into a shape which, when installed in the bottom of each nesting box, represented a slope, and a hole in the center where the egg would drop into the waiting pullout drawer below. I don't recall if we finish the job that day. But it became my job to collect the eggs every morning from these drawers, and keep the wood box at the house full from the woodshed. Later that fall, we went northwest of the farm, to Gunnar's farm, where after dark with flashlights and a gunnysack, pigeons were captured from the loft of the barn. They were brought home and locked in the attic of our chicken coop until they became accustomed that this was their new home. In later years, it became my job with the pitchfork from the barn to clean out the chicken coup, and place new fresh straw on the floor. Also fill the water and feeder containers for the chickens, the cracked grain from the small granary just up the hill towards the barn, perhaps less than 50 yards away.