Growing Up

How did your family spend time together?  Tell about favourite trips or vacations.

Grandma:  We enjoyed playing in the hills and gullies leading to the creek.  It was fun at the barn with the animals.  We skated on the damn behind the barn.  We had a model T car when I was young.  If it was icy, mom walked up and down the hill in our lane instead of riding in the car with dad.  He always made it okay!  We went often to grandpa Leeders.  If we had a long trip to go on we went with the Leeders.  I can remember going to Sarnia once and having to buy a hat – I hated that.  We went to a white church at the corner of the 6th built on Grandpa Leeder’s place.  Then when it closed we went to church in Port Elgin.  We went every Sunday.  We enjoyed Reunion Camps in P.E.

Grandpa:  There was always enough of us in our family to make our own fun.  We spent time building cabins in the bush, rafts to ride on the creek.  We skated on the ponds.  We often went to Grandma McLeods and Uncle Dan McLeans.  Once a year a trip was made in the new car to Owen Sound.  We took turns going – there wasn’t room for everyone.  We rode horseback at home and calves in the stable.  We always had neighbor kids in for evenning ball games.  As children we went to the United Brethren Church.

What were the family rules in your household?

Grandma:  Keep away from the creek.  Wear warm clothes.  Eat your vegetables.

Grandpa:  Listen when you’re spoken to.  When dad spoke to us, we listened.

Did your family have enough money?  What were one or two of the worst times in your family like?  What were one or two of the best times?

Grandma:  We always had warm clothes and lots to eat.  We just didn’t go any place where we needed money.  One of the worst times in our family was when Mabel and I had to go and help out at Grandma Leeders at holiday time.  Also when dad had to go to bed with sciatica in the winter time.  When I couldn’t get hired as a teacher the first time.  It was an awful time until I got that job. 

The best times were Christmas at Grandma Leeders, going by sleigh to Uncle Walter and Aunt Sadies for Christmas – about 8 miles.  Skating on the creek at the back of the barn.  There was a damn there, and the neighbor kids would come and we’d shovel the snow off.  There was an automatic little pump down there called a “ram”.  It pumped water to the barn.

Grandpa:  We didn’t need money – we always had lots of good food and fun.  I was too young to realize I’d lost my mother.  When my brother Murray was killed in a bicycle/car accident at age 12 – that was hard.  Dad died when I was 19 and I went home from working at McConkey’s to work the farm.  Within 2 years the farm was sold and Dave and I really had no home.

The best times were when my dad let me drive Queen (a light weight driving mare.)  I’d go to the bush and back.  I was about 12.  She was a pretty lifey horse.  A yearly occurrence was the visit to Owen Sound.  We three younger boys raced on horseback and rode calves.

Where did you live?  What do you remember most about your home?  How is that place different now? 

Grandma:  We lived in a white brick house with 5 bedrooms, a little used parlour, kitchen with 6 doors.  We always used the back kitchen in the summer.  My brother Gomer bought the farm from our parents.  The house was at the top of a hill with a winding lane.  A creek wound around the farm.  We had a big veranda, a small orchard and always a woodpile along the fence, and a garden.  We always had a dog – Rover, Pete.  But they weren’t really special to me.  I liked horses.  No cats for me!  We used to ride horseback on Flora, a white long legged horse who sometimes balked.  We all liked to skate and play ball.  I remember once going with Dad and Mom and Grandma out to Aunt Elizabeth Carrs.  I was to stay while they went to see ill Aunt Mima Dobson.  I was too shy to stay, so I went too.  I helped pick dandelions for dandelion wine.

Grandpa:  We moved to town when I was three, to the east side of highway 21.  We lived in a large white brick house with 5 large bedrooms and a big hallway upstairs.  There was a wood stove in that hall – it was lit when it got very cold.  We had a lot of large hard maple trees.  A motel was built there later (Ashtons now) and the farm was sold as building lots.  Winnie and Howard bought it after we moved when dad died.  May and Bill lived in part of the house.  We always had cats for pets, and a white poodle named Betty.  Riding horses was our favourite.  We had a play room upstairs.  Everyone had their own section.  We had paper and card board dolls.

Were you ever really sick?

Grandma:  Gallsones and jaundice aren’t very nice.  So I had an operation.

Grandpa:  Never, I guess.

 What do you remember about the grammar school you attended?  How did you get there?  Did you have any favourite books or stories?

Grandma:  We walked a mile to #1 Saugeen.  Tried (only once) walking home with Beth for lunch hour.  I would rather eat lunch at school in peace.  I had the job of sweeping and dusting for awhile – that was the first money I earned.  Our school had one room with a gramaphone.  I always liked books.  I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  My parents just wanted me to get an education and  pick what I’d like to do.

Grandpa:  We walked to school in town.  There were five teachers.  We played “Bull in Ring” and ball.  I passed the entrance in #1 Saugeen.  I liked to read the Burgess books – Reddy Fox, Buster Bear, Old Man Coyote, Peter Rabbit.  I wanted to be a butcher when I grew up!  My parents never showed any preference.

Do you remember what things cost?

Grandma:  Clothes were mostly hand made or handed down.  For food we had home made brown bread, home made butter.  We made apple butter, honey, cheese.  Once Grandpa Scott took us kids in the buggy to see the movie “Chataque”.  Grandpa Leeder took us to see “Ben Hur”.  I had a carved wooden doll for a toy.  I liked outdoor games best.

Grandpa:  Eggs were 8 cents a dozen.  Ice cream was 5 cents a cone.  Chocolate bars were 5 cents.  We could buy bread, three loaves for 25 cents.  Ice skating cost 15 cents.  Gasoline was 25 cents a gallon.  Stamps were 3 cents.  Our primer reader cost 4 cents, and the 1st reader was 6 cents.

What household chores or jobs did you have to do as a teenager?  Did you get an allowance?  What was school like then?  When did you move away from home?

Grandma:  I had to help with the milking and haying, weed the garden, pile wood, stook grain.  Mabel liked to cook – I liked to clean house, especially the store room.  We got a bit of money for school fair days.  I can’t remember it bothering me not having any.  When I was 17 I worked at McConkeys when Lorna was born,  and then Aunt Minnie’s (Vennard) tourist home during the holidays.  We travelled by horse and buggy, sleigh and team, horse and cutter, and then Model T Ford.  I completed 5 years of high school.  I liked reading, p.t. (physical training), and games at recess.  I was pretty stupid at some math and physics.  I liked playing volleyball and baseball.  I also liked to participate in our Christmas concerts at school and church.  Once I was a dancer in “Mikado” at teacher’s college.  I was in a flash light drill at a high school concert.  I won field day badges in high school, for three legged race, relay races and jumps.  I got the Mitchell Scholarship, which was $25.00 and was voted on by your class and teachers.  In Teacher’s College I was a member of the Litterary Club, which published the year book.  I was also a member of Junior Institute.  As far as songs and dances that were popular – I don’t know.  I guess I wasn’t up on that.  We took piano lessons. 

I loved to wear red things.  I remember a raw silk dress with an embroidered yolk when I was 10.  Long wool stockings in winter were AWFUL!  We wore wool caps, skirts and sox in high school.  Mom and dad most influenced my thinking during my teens, along with Lena and Nina when I went teaching.  Blanche influenced me in Teacher’s College, as I boarded with her.  I first taught school in Red Bay, No 9 Bruce and No 4 Saugeen.  I took some summer courses in London.

I was the oldest in my family and was responsible for the younger ones.  I had to watch the lamps.  I didn’t like picking berries because the mosquitoes drove me wild.  I also didn’t like to pile wood – every evening, it seemed.   

Grandpa:  In my teens (and before) I had to milk cows, feed pigs and do other chores.  We picked berries, split and piled wood, looked after chickens and cleaned stables.  I never got an allowance.  Dad took a load of wood to a tourist once – it wasn’t split fine enough, so Murray and Dave and I were left to split it.  The man was so surprised at how well we handled axes.  We had a 1914 Ford cutter, a buggy (2 seater) and a team of bloods (drivers).  I completed 2 years of high school.  I liked recess best.  Also arithmetic, spelling and reading.  I didn’t like teachers, grammar, geography, history or art.  I liked playing soccer.  Once I bought a guitar, but hadn’t time for it.  May sent a gramaphone for the first Christmas she was teaching, and it was used a lot.  I joined Junior Farmers.  Some songs that were popular when I was a teenager were “Sipping Cider Through a Straw”, “All By Myself in the Moonlight”, “I Don’t Know Why I Love You Like I Do.” 

In the summer we always wore short pants and no shoes.  We had home made overalls and flannel shirts, home knitted sweaters, socks and mitts.    My dad most influenced my thinking, as well as Newton.  I respected my dad’s judgement.  I had to stay out of high school to go threshing and to silo fillings for dad as he wasn’t all that able to do all that had to be done.  I first worked away from home at a neighbors.  When I was 17 I worked a month in the summer for Milt Thede.  Then Eldon Thede’s, both farm work.  The I went to work at Latsch’s dairy farm in Kitchener. 

Family traditions and celebrations – did you celebrate any special family or ethnic holidays at your house?  How did you celebrate your birthday? 

Grandma:  Christmas!  Whatever we got in our stockings, (which was usually fruit, nuts and candy) was always very special.  I can’t remember celebrating my birthday.  The best gift I ever got was clothes, I guess.  I can remember Aunt Sadie always gave us clothes at Christmas.  Aunt Abbie sent Christmas pudding when I roomed with Blanche.   Carrot pudding was my favourite.  We celebrated Easter and Thanksgiving in our own family.  The best gift I ever gave?  My children, I’m sure.  Favourite foods were apple pudding that mom made – it smelled so good when we came home from school.  Also her lemon pie.  And Christmas pudding was always my favourite. 

Grandpa:  Christmas!  We hung up stockings.  Got an orange and some home made taffy.  When the older ones went to work they were very generous in sending gifts.  My birthday was just another birthday in our family.  A gift I remember was a climbing monkey on a string.  Also a mechano set from Newton to us three boys.  The best gift I ever gave ?  Myself!  My favourite food on special occasions was raisin pie and apple pie.  Sundays we couldn’t play anything but hymns on the gramaphone, and no ball.  But we did go to the bush.

2 thoughts on “Growing Up

  1. I love reading these memories…. an orange for Christmas. I continue to put an orange in my children’s/grandchildren’s stockings…. but they really don’t understand why. I can remember getting a Christmas treat at Sunday School consisting of an orange and some chocolate covered creams. I thought I was in Heaven!

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