There’s no such thing as a slow news day in a small town. Not when you have long-term residents willing to tell you their story and dig up a couple of old photos to go with it.
This “news” article was published in the People section of the Port Elgin Beacon Times on July 28, 1999 when my dad was 85. There are a few mistakes in it, the funniest one being where they say our youngest sister is “Barbara” which isn’t even close to her real name. That’s okay, she likes to remain anonymous.
Dad was the 8th of 10 children, not 9, but his youngest brother died in a bicycle accident when he was just a boy. Maybe dad chose to skip over that part.
Hope you enjoy this little slice of history.
I lived here until I was 5 or 6 so my memories of it are vague. There was a hand pump in the kitchen for water, and we had baths in a big wash tub on the kitchen floor. The next farm-house we lived in had hot and cold running water and a bath tub upstairs. Now if people have fewer than four bathrooms in a house they are likely to complain. How times change.
Set your time machines to November 20th, 1971 and let’s talk about going away outfits. I’ve heard they’re supposed to be stylish and sophisticated and perfect, carefully chosen ensembles you wear for the last dance at your wedding reception before embarking on your romantic honeymoon and the beginning of your new life.
Does anyone even do those anymore? I’m so out of touch with what goes on at weddings. I was completely out of touch at my own. It would have made me so happy to get married barefoot on the beach or to simply elope. W was all for that too, but our families were both big on tradition and we got swept up in the kerfluffle. I’m pretty sure my mother and my mother-in-law did more sighing and eye rolling at my lack of interest than I noticed at the time. They kept asking me questions even though they hardly ever liked my answers.
Things we didn’t get quite right –
- There was no engagement ring. We couldn’t afford one and picked out inexpensive gold wedding bands instead. I would have lost a diamond. I lost my wedding band three times.
- There was no veil. I made a hooded dress with braided silver trim. It cost about twenty five dollars. I wanted my sisters hooded dress to be deep purple, but they couldn’t find suitable material in that colour, so it was royal blue. Close enough.
- There was no hairdresser. By the time this picture was taken my self inflicted bouncy curls had bounced their last and I looked more or less back to normal.
- The best man (W’s brother) and the ushers (my brother and a friend) all had different coloured suits and shirts and ties and probably socks, for all I know, because we told them just to wear whatever they had.
- The flowers were artificial. It was November. There was freezing rain. We had a church ceremony, a church basement supper, and a get together at my family farm house after that. The dance was a week later a thousand miles away with the grooms side of the family.
- We forgot to book a room somewhere, so spent our wedding night at my girlfriend and her husbands house after banging on their door and waking them up. Good thing they both had a sense of humour.
- We had no honeymoon, unless you count a two day drive from my home town to his.
Oh, let’s just stop at lucky number seven, shall see? There’s lots more but this is getting depressing, and besides, I want you to look at those going away outfits! I must have pulled some random thing out of my closet because my face is saying “I’m married! I don’t care!” And W is wearing his university blazer (that’s confetti, not dandruff) but it’s hard to focus on his clothes because of those sideburns! I can’t even. I’m sure you can’t either. Proof that love is blind is all I can say about that.
Weddings make me hungry. Handbag under my arm, mouth full of cake, ready to blow this pop stand and set the world on fire. Maybe starting with that brown and beige thing I’m wearing….
Our back door, snow shovel and broom on guard. It’s hard to take pictures of falling rain, especially in the dark. This morning there’s sheets of ice everywhere.
We slid along water reds and greens, the changing lights captured in the canvas of wet tar.”
― Ruth Reichl, Delicious!
Another story from the 1920’s grade 2 Primer, written in cursive, so for that alone a true relic from the past. I know that we had access when we were kids to these readers saved from my mothers childhood and although I don’t know who was responsible for all the underlining, I will plead guilty to the colouring. That red hen was not red enough for me.
My grandmother was an avid reader, but I never saw her read a book without a pencil or a pen in her hand, underlining what seemed to me to be completely random words and phrases. She would have loved hi-lighters. Mom gave me one of grandmas “doctored” books as a keepsake. It’s full of squiggly pencil underlining from beginning to end. Maybe she passed this habit on to one of her kids when they were learning to read.
Anyway, here’s the story, underlining, bad colouring and all. Sorry some of it is hard to see, but the pages have been around for almost a hundred years. We should all look as good when we’re this ancient.
I may not remember this moment (circa 1954) or why we called our cousin Baby but never referred to the littler sister that way, or posing with them all dressed up in skirts with straps, holding hands and no doubt being cajoled into saying cheese…but I will never forget that three-bears skirt of mine.
Just by looking at us you will understand how hard it was to compete for attention with these two gorgeous little Shirley Temples in my life, but I wonder if that day it didn’t bother me so much. Because I was wearing the best skirt in the universe. It was red corduroy with brown and white fuzzy appliquéd teddy bears, a birthday gift from a maiden aunt who always gave us birthday gifts to remember. Then she got married and had kids of her own and after that didn’t spoil us quite so much. She’s the one who cemented my love of all things red. There was also a shiny red faux leather purse another year. But that fabulous skirt was still the best. It was brand new, not a hand-me-down, mine first! I put it on and wanted never to take it off again.
It was probably a very sad day when I outgrew it. I expect it got passed on several times to other little girls who loved it too. That’s what we did with clothes, there was always someone else who could use them and when they were worn beyond repair the good bits got cut up for quilt blocks. A favourite game was to sit with a quilt over your legs and find grandmas Sunday dress or your brothers old plaid shirt.
Just so no one gets an overdose of nostalgia or cute I am going to try to limit my maudlin flashbacks to Fridays. Once a week seems about right.
Here’s to a great weekend, and patchwork quilts full of memories, and teddy bears, and all things red.
This post idea comes to you directly from Holly at Bloggity Ramblings, stolen from a number of sources, by the looks of things. Thanks Holly et al!
It’s a list! It’s the ABC’s! It’s all about MEEEEEE!!!!!! My kind of thing for sure since I feel I’m an expert on the subject. Feel free to copy the alphabet prompts and share yourself with your tribe.
A: Age – 66 and counting. Next birthday is Friday the 13th in May. My grandma started warning us at the age of 75 during every Christmas we were trying to celebrate that it could be her last. I’m going to keep up this tradition starting soon. She lived to be 99.
B: Biggest Fear – Deep water and being unable to breathe. So drowning, in other words. In a previous life I either did not survive the sinking of the Titanic, or I fell asleep in the bathtub.
C: Current Time – Well past noon. I vow to finish this before the day ends.
D: Drink I Last Had – Coffee. But before that I drank a big Starbucks tumbler of Crystal Light (acai white peach papaya flavour) laced with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, because it’s supposed to be good for many things, including lowering blood sugar. I’m not recommending this concoction to anyone, because frankly it tastes even worse than incredibly bad wine. Therefore it must be healthy and good for you of course, since all bad tasting things are.
E: Easiest Person to Talk to – My sister Ann. I could tell her how happy I am to know that before we were born our souls chose to be sisters in this lifetime and she would not say I’m crazy. Well, not out loud and to my face, anyway.
F: Favorite Song – Happy Birthday to you…..I know all the words and most of the tune.
G: Grossest Memory – It’s not all that gross, but it is funny. My son wanted to have a collection of something and decided to save his toenail clippings. Unlimited source and not a lot of thought or effort involved. His passion for this hobby was thankfully short-lived.
H: Hometown – Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada, although I grew up on a nearby farm.
I: In Love With – Life.
J: Jealous Of – People who have more money than brains. Although not so much the no brains part of that one.
K: Killed Someone? Not yet. Hopefully never. Have watched a lot of murder mysteries and am not confident I could get away with it.
L: Longest Relationship – Met W in March 1970 and married him in November 1971. So that’s 46 years of wondering what the hell he’s going to do next.
M: Middle Name – Mae. There’s a few of those in my family history. It’s a good name.
N: Number of Siblings – three – one older brother, two younger sisters.
O: One Wish – Good health. And if I can’t have that, acceptance of whatever life hands me, with grace and dignity. Because foot stomping and howling is probably not the most attractive way to deal with shit.
P: Last Person You Called – Seriously it was probably a doctor’s office.
Q: Question You Are Always Asked – What the hell is wrong with you?? Haha…just kidding. Is that your natural hair colour? Because it is pretty much grey/white but with very dark hair at the back of my neck and my forehead. Like anyone would do that on purpose.
R: Reason to Smile – I’m retired! I could paint all day if I felt like it!
S: Song You Last Sang – Hotel California, but only in my head while trying to get to sleep.
T: Time You Woke Up – Yes, yes it is.
U: Underwear Colour – mostly black. In fact almost everything I wear is black in my unsuccessful quest to become invisible.
V: Vacation Destination – I love to go home to Ontario to visit family.
W: Worst Habit – procrastination.
X: X-Rays You’ve Had – lower back, chest, teeth/jaw. Then it’s on to MRI’s and CT Scans. There are some doctors who know me inside out.
Y: Your Favorite Food – Salted peanuts. It’s the first thing that popped in to my head. We don’t have any in the house at the moment. Damn.
Z: Zodiac Sign – Taurus. Sign of the procrastinating peanut lover.
Okay, it’s your turn!