1 The Story of My Life I was born march 19th 1905 in Inkster, North Dakota. My father was Joseph Connolly and my mother was Mary Blanche Soper. My father‟s great grandfather was from the Galway Bay area of Ireland. He had been studying for the priesthood in the Roman Catholic church but for some reason he left the church and came to the US. Other relatives followed until there were a number of Connollys, Barries and other Irish families settled in ND. My mother‟s folk were originally from England and had settled in Ontario Canada. Her mother‟s name was Roxanne Percival and her father‟s name was Robert Soper. I know much more of my mother‟s family history that that of my father‟s who had died three months before I was born. My mother‟s mother died when she was nine years old leaving her –a sister Ethel in her early teens and a sister Georgina two years old. It was TB that caused her death and the death of Ethel soon after. Because of these deaths, my grandfather became very protective of his two remaining daughters. They stayed with relatives for a while. Then grandfather bought back the family farm and his father and maiden sister settled with my mother and Georgina. The farm was rented out as grandfather had a store and was not a farmer. Mother often spoke of the good times while living on the farm. There were sugar maples where they enjoyed “sugaring off” and having a supply of maple sugar and syrup. Great grandfather kept a few sheep- some chickens and a cow. When we are so concerned about cholesterol today, it is quite surprising to hear of the diet of those days. Fried potatoes for breakfast- salt pork and beans baked or in soup. Pies, cakes, cookies tho grandfather didn‟t care much for sweets so the family ate more fruit –apples, oranges and canned fruit. A “boiled dinner was a favorite. A piece of pork with potatoes, carrots, turnip and onions, etc. Also, chicken and dumplings. Beds were frames with ticks made of heavy cotton material called ticking. These were filled with corn husks and were changed every so often. Floor coverings were braided rugs either home made of from material sent to the factory. First a layer of hay or straw was spread evenly, then the rug was stretched and tacked down. These were swept after spreading wet torn up paper around to keep the dust down. Quite often there was a well dug under the house and a pump in the kitchen. Coal oil lamps or candles were used. Great Grandfather always went to bed with his candle (mother often said when she thought about it in later years, she didn‟t know why they had no fear of fires from this). One did not go to a store to buy clothes. Each fall and spring a dressmaker would come to stay for several weeks to make the needed wardrobes. She would have patterns and books of the current styles. Each person would choose what they wanted. Coats, dresses, petticoats with frills and flouces (which were always starched), suits, whatever the family required. Hats (always worn) were made by milliners. At least one was assured of having “original” styles and attire. This was looked upon as a great event. Not only were new clothes obtained but the dressmakers were fountains of news having been in so many homes. “The latest gossip column”. This was a way for folk to have a wardrobe made to order and no two people had the exact same outfit. Furs were popular and muffs kept hands warm as Ontario weather was cold in winter. When I see the elaborate dresses, hats, coats and furs worn by mother and Auntie Gee in pictures we have and look at today‟s “code‟ of dress, times have not improved. I was waiting for Winnie and Marlene in the mall the other day and thought how awful women look in the type of clothing of today. 2 Every so often, a well dressed woman would come along and she stood out like a real jewel among fake ornaments. (This will make my granddaughters giggle). Grandfather would not let mother and Auntie Gee go down town without hats and gloves. When great grandfather Soper died, Grandfather sold the farm and the family moved into Brockville. At this time, he was traveling in the states for a drug company. He would always bring home the latest things he could find or the company would send special gifts for his family. One was a parrot that I still remember us having when we lived in Landis. Polly was a very smart bird - could talk very plainly and knew what he was saying. In Ontario they used to hang his cage outdoors on nice days and evidently someone taught his to swear. This he did when he was angry. Mostly he just told folk to “go to hell” when ever they upset him. He was very fond of pumpkins pie and would hold the spoon in one foot while eating. One day I gave him turnips saying “pumpkin pie Polly”. After the first bite, he threw the spoon down and told me where to go. Social life was very enjoyable. Mother and Auntie Gee visited relatives in other places, entertained friends as theyw ere very popular. Living on the river, there were excursions plus visits to New York state where other Sopers lived. The pace of life was slow. Most people did not travel. A forty mile trip was something as one went by horse and buggy or by train. Grandfather insisted on keeping a “maid” for them; in those days called a “hired girl”. But she would be like one of the family. There were social classes. One did not mingle with those of a lower standing. Young women like mother and Auntie Gee did not work. They stayed home until marriage and after marrying were busy with house keeping and family raising and were happier than women of today. Mother had a very dear cousin, Annie Cross. She had wanted to marry Ed Church but her parents disapproved. (Girls were more obedient to parental authority then). Ed had gone to North Dakota, married and raised a family, then his wife died. He came back to Ontario again to see Annie who by this time was more able to withstand her parents wishes and she married Ed. North Dakota was almost like the “wild west” in those days. Annie of course missed her family and mother went to spend time with her. Life was exciting there. Ed owned farms and outfits for thrashing, etc. He had a big home and a lively family – who were almost too much for Annie. But mother was a favorite with them and enjoyed the social life there. There she met my father Joseph James Connolly who owned a dry goods store. Auntie Gee always said mother was very choosy and the boys in Ontario did not appeal to her. Evidently Joe Connolly “swept her off her feet” and they were married back in her father‟s home in Ontario. My father‟s parents were dead. He had one sister married in Inkster – Carrie Robertson and uncles and cousins there too. Some time later, he was not feeling well so he and mother went to Grand Forks where he had doctors check him and the result was he had “galloping consumption” which we call TB today. Then there was no known cure and he died three months before I was born. Mother must have been devastated. Auntie Gee told me that she was certainly very much in love with my father. I remember a long burnt wood box my mother kept for some time and in it was a note from my father –a very tender, caring note. But sad to say, my father gambled as card playing was a favorite pastime in the west in those days –and though he had quit on marrying mother, he had accumulated debts which on his death, had to be paid. So the store had to be sold to cover those losses and mother was left with very little income and having never worked, was not trained for anything. I am sure had she applied for something, she would have been able to earn a living for us – but mother was a very proud woman and maybe felt this was not for her. She had her home and support of relatives and 3 friends. Because of my father‟s death, grandfather Soper, Auntie Gee and Auntie Mary Soper all moved to Inkster and lived with mother. Grandfather Soper became a salesman in a men‟s clothing store and this is where I now enter the picture. Inkster was a very pretty town with lovely shade trees, nice homes and people. I remember our house – the “parlor” as the living room was called with front door (hardly ever used) as there was a door with a porch from the dining room, two bed rooms off the kitchen. In the kitchen there was a sink with a drain pipe and a pump as there was a well under the house, also a back porch. Of course, there was a cellar with a “trap door” in the floor and steps going down. This was the store room for vegetables and preserved fruits, pickles, jams, etc. We had a big yard and I remember a big tree with picnic table and benches where we ate our suppers. While ND was somewhat frontier, there were phones and cars. I don‟t remember my first ride in one. Even at that age I was more interested in horses and remember my cousin Barry taking me up on the saddle in front of him as he rode his horse, Kaiser. We had neighbors beside us who had a boy just a year older than I. We were inseparable in play and mischief. I got more spankings for going down town into the stores with him and getting candy. Someone would phone mother to ask if she knew “Tot” as I was called, was in the store. Also I remember Irvey (my friend‟s name) and me sitting on his front steps telling people going by that they were “bug house”. I don‟t remember where we heard that word but it sounded as if it would upset folk. I was not a sweet, obedient child! My poor mother had many “trials” but Auntie who I called _______ was there to take my part. Also, Grandpa Soper. We also used to visit a great deal with Uncle Ed and Aunt Annie Church and the family; also Uncle James and Aunt Lelia Berry and their family. My father‟s only sister and her family lived in Inkster too so there was quite a social life with different degrees of “class” even in a small western town. Because my father had been a very popular young man and the sorrow felt for my mother, I was somewhat spoiled. Mother played the organ in the church and I would wander up to the platform. There was a young preacher called Mr. Pippy. He wore a hat called a bowler and would always put it on the chair beside him and I would put the hat on and hang over the railing which sent the young people into spasms of laughter which had to be controlled as they were in church. I sometimes wonder why my family let me do this as I was disciplined by my mother. Auntie Gee, on a visit to Canada, met the man she was to marry –Nellis Nunn. The Nunn family lived at Pilot Mound in Manitoba so we went to visit them. There were four boys in the family and Robert became my stepfather later on. I remember Auntie Gee‟s wedding – not the ceremony as she was married early in the morning as they had to drive some miles to catch the train that would take them up to Canada. Uncle Nellis at this time was owner and editor of a paper in Dundern, SK. What I do remember is the wedding breakfast. Small tables had been set up in the living and dining rooms for the guests. I can still remember going from table to table where folk gave me food. I suppose I likely was to sit at one of the tables but as mother would be too busy to supervise me, I was able to wander. I am not too sure whether Grandpa Soper died before Auntie Gee came back to Inkster to have her baby. Grandpa was quite a stout man and on Memorial Day as he was cutting the grass in the cemetery evidently the mower hit something that caused the handle to give him a blow which caused a ruptured intestine. Within a short time he was dead. Though there was a doctor in Inkster, medical science was not far enough advanced for small town doctors to be able to perform the type of operation he needed. Auntie Gee‟s baby was still born and she had a very hard time I‟ve been told. 4 Finally, there was only Auntie _____, mother and I left in Inkster. My friend Irvy‟s family moved to Montana and so I was left without my playmate. There were other older children around but none so dear as Irvy. By this time I would have been going on five I think. Then Auntie ____ had pneumonia and died. I still remember her coming to call me home. She had a cold and her voice was very hoarse. And pneumonia was the death of many older folk. So mother and I were left alone. My father, Grandpa Soper, ____ and Auntie Gee‟s baby boy are all buried in Inkster. Auntie Gee‟s granddaughter, Donalda, visited Inkster a few years ago. She was collecting data for the “Family Tree” she was working on. While there she visited the cemetery and found out the need for us to support the cost of the upkeep of the graves. So each of the children sent in a lump sum for that use. She also visited the newspaper offices and was able to look through old papers dating back to the times of my parents and grandfather and Auntie. She was able to copy certain items relating to my father‟s marriage to my mother – Auntie Gee‟s time in Inkster – her marriage to Uncle Nellis – Grandpa Soper‟s time there and his death and other items of interest to our family. Having left there at such a young age and not having much contact with my father‟s family, I have never thought of going back. My cousin Will who used to take me on his horse and my aunt Leila - Uncle James wife and cousin Josephine visited us in Landis. Later I had contact with cousins in Seattle and San Francisco. So ended mothers and my time in ND and a new era started as we moved to Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan and Landis I don‟t remember too much of our trip except riding on the train, and like all children, wanting to run up and down the aisle. Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee made us welcome. They were living up over the hardware store – one very large room with bedrooms down one side. Windows in front that over looked the main street. Landis was a typical prairie town. The railway ran through one side and on the other the big grain elevators – the section men‟s homes – the big water tank to supply the engines needs for at that time the engines were steam driven. I can see the town so clearly. On one side of the street near the station that was at the head of the street, was a hotel with a bar at one side – then a general store owned by Pat Devany who was Mr. Devany to me. Mother was a stickler for manners. There was a harness shop there then a jewelry or watchmaker next. No one spent much money on jewels -–mostly clock and watch repairs, then a barber shop and pool room combined, a “den of iniquity” – though the owner was a very fine man and a great friend of the family. Then was a building that was not used for business but where a family lived and where we had parties with the children. The father had a farm and lived out there coming in weekends - bringing farm supplies and taking baking back with him. The front of the building was empty - and the mother was noted for sitting there watching everything that was going on night and day. And making certain citizens nervous as to what she saw. I don‟t know how we children knew these things. I suppose we picked up a lot from parents talking when they thought we were not listening. Next was another general store whose owner had a rather scandalized back ground. Again, how did we know all this!! On the other side of the street across from the hotel was a building that I am not sure it‟s purpose but next to it was the drug store owned by Mr. Martin. He and his wife were from Ireland. It was reported that he had doctored in Ireland but because his drinking had caused a death, he had come to Canada to get away from his past. There was no doctor in Landis at this time so he was able to give medical advice. However he still imbibed frequently. He had a supply of alcoholic in his 5 drug store to be used in case of illnesses. One day the lady that used to sit watching the comings and going had a heart attack so all the women rushed to her aid. Someone was dispensed to the drug store for the brandy that was given to the ailing one. Much to the consternation of the good matrons, she kept saying “Give it to me hot and give it to me strong” which they continued to do. After a while as this continued they began to question the fact that maybe she frequently imbibed also. But finally after much talk and time, someone ventured to taste the brandy and found out that it was watered or “tea‟d down with black tea. So the lady‟s reputation was not flawed and Mr. Martin‟s was lowered. Next building was grandpa (Rob‟s father) Nunn‟s machinery business – plows, seeders, harrows, binders etc were sold there. The Nunns had moved from Crystal City in Manitoba around the time mother and I did. There was Rob who became my stepfather, Jonathan, nicknamed Jomp, who taught school and later became a doctor and Roy who worked in Uncle Nellis‟ store. Grandpa and Grandma Nunn were very loving toward me and I loved them. I still remember their living quarters behind the office of the machinery business. When it rained the roof leaked. And there were pots and pans on the floor, on the beds etc to catch the drips. Later both Grandpa Nunn and Uncle Nellis built houses as the town grew. Next to Grandpa‟s business was a restaurant with the family living behind the main part. Then Uncle Nellis‟ store. Beside it was a vacant lot which later had a meat market built on it. So many folk lived either behind or upstairs over their businesses. Down the street behind these, was a lumber yard and two livery stables. Everything was done by horsepower. Kitty corner from Uncle Nellis‟ store was the town hall with two jail cells built in. I never remember anyone being locked up though. Later, as the town grew and before we had a second school, some grades used the upper floor as a classroom. Down the street behind this building was a Chinese laundry, the school and the Anglican church and a few houses scattered here and there. Our house was built much later. There was prairie in every direction you looked with trails running in various directions. Around the town were fireguards plowed as prairie fires were frequent. I well remember one night sensing quite a bit of excitement and mother telling me not to look out the window which I immediately did as the men were fighting a fire at the edge of town. I expect this new generation must think how boring it was to live like this. But my sympathy goes out to them. I had the utmost freedom – no fear of anything except I might see a snake in my prairie wanderings. I loved the vastness of the prairies. I hunted gophers – we drove many miles with team and buggy. One could see buffalo skulls lying around. There seemed so much to see and do and I have never got over my love of the outdoors. The first year we lived upstairs with Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee. The main street had board sidewalks on each side but when it rained the street was just a muddy mess. I remember being out on the sidewalk when the drayman would come by with things he had picked up at the station to deliver to the stores. He would take me on the dray that was a large flat bottom wagon with a team of horses. I remember looking out the window at farmers coming into town with wagons pulled by oxen. I also remember hearing some of the men of the district going home at night after spending time in the bar drinking. They would be whipping the horse to full speed and laughing. In fact, one of our relatives was among them. Aunt Annie Cross, the cousin mother loved so much, had a black sheep brother, Aaron. His mother, Aunt Alice Cross was Grandpa Sopers sister. The Crosses were a very highly respected family living in Ontario. I am not sure just what happened to Aaron but he evidently left his wife – brought his two sons west and settled on a 6 farm out of Landis. I remember when relatives would come from Ontario to visit; it was rather embarrassing as Aaron had to be invited at least once to our place. About a year after we arrived in Landis, Mother married Rob Nunn. I don‟t recall the wedding but do recall them going to Saskatoon for a few days And Untie Gee and Grandma Nunn taking me for a drive and letting me have the reins. Horses took precedence over anything else in my life. We lived for a short while in Landis and then moved to Saskatoon where we lived for a year or so. I think my stepfather was in real estate business. My sister Helen was born there. There were always children in the neighbor hood to play with but I missed the prairies. Saskatoon was a lovely little city built on the South Saskatchewan River. I was to know it much better in later years. We returned to Landis that was growing with homesteaders coming in. The prairie trails were straightened out and became graded roads. A family came to live there with two children, George - a year older than I and Irene - a year younger. We became the greatest of friends. Mr. Bell owned a livery stable and of course horses. I started school when I was nearly eight years old. There seemed to be ”no rules” as to age. But we younger ones could spend a day or two in school with friends even before we were enrolled. I had a slate; slate pencils; a bottle of water and a cloth to wipe the slate clean. To have a pretty bottle was a mark of “class distinction”. In the spring we would catch polliwogs and have them in the bottles. Also the boys would make raft and dare us girls to go out on the pond. This sometimes ended up with a dip in the water – greatly upsetting the teacher and our mothers. Then rafts were banned for school hours until next springs repetition of “spring fever”. Each desk had an inkwell that was filled from a large bottle once you reached the “pen and ink” grade. Some girls had curls or long braids - great for the boys dipping the ends of them in the inkwells. All grades were in together. There was no high school for some years as there were no students that had reached that age. There is nothing new under the sun the Bible says and when it comes to teaching we had the opportunity of even missing a grade as we could learn at our own pace and ability. When I taught, I let my students do that. If one in grade 3 could do grade 4 math, I allowed him or her to do so. This helped especially with a weak subject a student might have. We never minded going to school. All our friends were there. We played games at recess with everyone taking part. We played together after school and on weekends. We visited the ones who came in from the country and they stayed in town sometimes with us. As the country became more settled schools were built in rural areas. But those within five miles of town came in to school. I was fortunate as I loved to read Uncle Nellis‟ books. He had fiction, poetry, and the old set of “Books of Knowledge”. Uncle Roy used to buy western magazines so I read those also. In later years Uncle Jomp taught out in a country school and would buy books for his students – letting me read them too. I well remember reading “The Wizard of Oz”! Uncle Nellis subscribed to the Saskatoon and Winnipeg daily newspapers that would come daily on the train. So I had reading material. The church library had a few books, mostly about missionaries. I wanted to be a missionary and go to far countries where there were lions and tigers, etc. I wasn‟t so sure about snakes and I‟m afraid I wasn‟t too concerned in reaching the natives with the gospel –though I knew they needed to hear of the Lord Jesus Christ. I may be backtracking but after we came back from Saskatoon my stepfather bought a quarter section of land about a quarter of a mile out of town. The country had been divided up into townships. Each one contained thirty- six sections of land and each section contained six hundred and forty acres. Each section could be divided into four quarters of one hundred and sixty acres. 7 Many early farmers made a living off of a quarter section. The soil was very rich and with only horse or oxen power that was all one man could manage to break the land, till the soil, plant and harvest a crop. The quarter we lived on was partly pastured as we had horses and a couple of cows. The rest was rented out to a nearby farmer on a crop share basis. I think it was mainly oats and hay for our livestock. We had a couple of pigs, chicken, ducks, geese and turkeys. Water was pulled up from the well in a pail through a pulley fastened to framework over the well. It was quite deep and in the winter ice formed down the sides of the cribbing – a framework built down the sides of the well so it could not cave in. This ice usually stayed there well into the summer and we could hang the milk can down and maybe other things as there were no fridges in those days. However, we had an icehouse into which great blocks if ice were gathered from the frozen sloughs in winter. It was packed in hay and was used for freezing ice cream in summer – but could not be used in food as slough water was not very clean. I can still taste mothers home made ice cream with real cream! As towns grew, everyone had a “sports day”. We would have lunch packed and drive the ten or fifteen miles with a team of horses. There were horse races – later I used to ride my pony in the pony race, baseball, races for children and adults alike, a booth where ice cream, etc was sold. The adults visited - caught up with news, cheered for the home team or took part in the games and we children did the same. There were dances in the schools – usually someone could chord on the piano or organ and someone played a violin or fiddle as it was called. There were debates among the men and later on among we young ones such as “which is the most useful – the horse or the cow”. Christmas programs were the highlight of the winter. (There were no trees in or near Landis except three little poplars in a pasture close by. That was the picnic area for the younger ones). So a big fir tree would be imported by train for the occasion. It would be decorated with strings of popcorn, crepe paper ornaments and with candles. These candles would be about five or six inches long and held in holders clipped to the branches. On the night of the concert they were lit. I do not remember anyone being nervous about fire but have thought often since of the danger. Our school building was a large, two story building and would have gone up in flames very quickly. There was a gift for every child and also families brought extra. The more your name was called out would indicate prestige for the family. However, several families of which we were one felt this was not the socially right thing to do. Santa would come with bells on and we to kiss him to get our gift. My sister Helen says she still remembers it and was so frightened she felt she would rather not receive anything but had to do it to be polite. Christmas was so simple in those days and yet so wonderful. We hung our stockings on the foot of the bed and in the morning were hesitant to look – “maybe Santa hadn‟t come”. There would be an orange, apple, candy and nuts and a gift or two. I was never interested in dolls but my teddy bear was my delight. I remember one time getting two beautiful “Eaton‟s Beauty Dolls” – one fair and the other dark. I‟m not sure what became of them as I never wanted to play house or with dolls. Christmas dinner was at Grandma Nunns house. Everything you could buy was on the table finished off with mince pie, Christmas pudding and fruitcake. The men would retire to the parlor while the women washed stacks of dishes. In the evening there was usually music. Mother played the piano; Rob had a cornet, Uncle Jomp a trombone and the rest sang. Usually I was given a book as a gift so I would read. My sister Helen and Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee‟s three –Ralph, Mabel and Donald would play with their new toys and then fall asleep. Wintertime was so fun. Everyone skated, the young and some adults. I do remember my first skates at about age five. They had two blades and were strapped on to my shoes. Later even the one blade skates were fastened to our shoes and then strapped on. What excitement when we had skates fastened to shoes with screws. Usually we wore straps as well. We had an open air rink 8 and near Landis was a large slough with very little depth of water. The teenagers would go there as there was lots of room and even some romances blossomed. Billy, my first pony! I don‟t know where I got my love of horses. Not my mother who was even afraid of Shetland ponies. Must be from my Irish ancestors as the Irish are noted for their love of horses. I wanted a pony so much. There was one old Shetland pony owned by the store keeper but he wasn‟t very attractive. I will never forget the day when I was out in the yard, seeing someone driving down a side road a piece away and leading a pony behind the buggy. I wondered who it could be as I knew it was no one living close to Landis. The driver went on into town and I didn‟t think too much more about it – until a short time later, my stepfather came home with the driver of the buggy still leading that pony right into our yard. There he was – a rather stocky sorrel Shetland and he was ours. It seems he had been bought for a little girl in another town and she couldn‟t handle him as she was rather fearful of him. I don‟t expect she missed him. There were no such things as riding lessons. We got on a pony and rode it and if we fell off we got up and on him again. Billy had a mind of his own. He did not like men. I guess they seemed so large to him. He never bit or kicked me and was not mean in any way. But he had a way of bossing me at times. When he was tired of being ridden he would run home with me hanging on to his mane and when he reached the gate, down would go his head and over it I would go. He would stand there looking at me as much as to say “what are you going to do about it”? If I knew he was tired, I would turn him loose in the pasture – if not, I would make him go again. I did not have a saddle as my folk were afraid if I fell with my foot caught in the stirrup I could be badly hurt. Later I had a little Indian saddle and as we had more ponies, a stock saddle. We could hitch Billy to a buggy or democrat (a light dray). In fact when we moved down into town - house, barn, etc, my folk started to plant trees. In the spring I would hitch Billy to the democrat and my stepfather would load a couple of barrels and a pail and I would drive to the slough and fill the barrels with water for the little trees. Once when my cousin Ralph and I went out to a straw pile to get some chicken feed, we were eating apples and Billy loved apples so we stopped to feed him some. I felt sorry for him trying to eat with the bit in his mouth so I slipped his bridle off. Instead of feeling grateful he took off for home on the run. You can imagine how we felt for there were wagons and other things in the yard that he could easily have smashed into. But we ran the mile and a half and found him standing at the gate – no damage done – even to the bridle down around his feet. Having Billy gave me extra freedom. I could go all over the country. My friend Irene‟s father bought her one of the ponies my stepfather brought from Saskatoon and her brother George had a large pony so we traveled far and wide. Folk used to tease me because if mother wanted me to uptown which was two short blocks - I‟d walk away down in the pasture to catch Billy to ride on the errand. He wasn‟t always easy to catch. I would take a pail with some oats and a rope. I‟d put the pail down with the rope loosely around it and call him while shaking the oats. Of course he wanted the food so he would come. I‟d let him eat a few bites and then when his head was down in the pail, I would quickly pull the rope up around his neck. I used to have to herd the cows as there was still open range around. That wasn‟t much fun as I just had to sit there on Billy while he would graze too. I was not allowed to ride him on Sunday simply because mother would dress me in a white dress and stockings and could get very soiled on Billy. However, there was one exception. Sometimes the cow got out of the pasture and I was sent to look for her. I looked every place I knew she would not be until I knew I had better find her and get home before some one came looking for me. 9 In the winter I used to hitch Billy or later one of the other ponies to my hand sleigh and others would hook on behind and we would spend hours driving around. Billy could run very fast for his size so often I used to race him. One fun thing was to know when the train was coming and to go down beside the tracks where there was a nice wide cinder path and race the train to the station. It was perfectly safe as I would be about twenty feel from the engine. The engineer and fireman would be looking out cheering me on. I‟m not sure my mother knew this! In fact, my mother never knew of many of my escapades –especially if they had to do with the ponies. My stepfather decided to raise some Shetlands and among the newcomers was a beautiful black stallion named Diamond. He became my pride and joy. Billy was getting up in years and went to a gentle little boy who lived on a farm and I knew his life would be good. Life was beginning to change in Landis and the surrounding countryside. More and more farmers were developing the land. The soil was rich; in fact so much that little care was given to it. The prairies had been covered with a grass called “Prairie Wool”. It was short but underneath the new growth was a mat of semi dried grass. This had fed millions of buffalo over the years – they had been able to paw through the snow to reach it. It was very nutritious. Sometimes when Eddie and I would be traveling on horse back, we would notice our horses graze for a while and then stand relaxed and resting. But the landowners did not realize what they were doing to the soil. In the early days often they only disked the stubble fields enough to seed the new crops. Finally with the “wool” gone there was only dry dirt that blew in great dust storms and caused many to lose all they had. Today strip farming is being done which means a field is divided into parts. One may be seeded to wheat or some other grain while another has alfalfa or some such plant that is rich in nutrients and which is plowed back in to the land. But in my Landis days farmers were still growing crops in big way. A man might have one or more sections to cultivate. Instead of oxen, horses the kind that were powerful and quick, were used. Maybe six or eight to a plow. In the fall, the crop was harvested by binders which cut the grain and tied it into bundles. These bundles, called stookes would be stacked in groups to dry before threshing. To be a good stoker was a real art. There would be at least ten sheaves to a stook. Properly done, the rain would run off and the wind couldn‟t blow them over. Later in my school teaching days I was spending the night with a friend on her father‟s farm. We decided to go out by moonlight and do some stooking. The sheaves were quite heavy and next morning we were teased about the shapes of our stooks. They did look lopsided. Threshing time was exciting. A man living in Landis had a threshing outfit – a big steam engine that traveled about 3 miles an hour and could be heard for miles –a separator that did the threshing. The crew consisted of one to run the engine, one the separator, one to drive the water tank to supply the engine, about ten teams of horses hitched to hayracks and several field pitchers to keep loading the wagons. Each farmer to be threshed supplied a team, rack and driver. Then there were several wagons to haul the wheat to the various granaries. Also there was a bunkhouse on wheels where the men could sleep and a cookhouse also on wheels where the meals were provided. Usually there was a Chinese cook hired for this job. Irene and I would ride out to where the threshing was being done after school and visit the cookhouse where we would be given a piece of pie – not nearly as good as our mothers made but special to us because of where we got it. The threshing set up was the engine about fifteen or eighteen feet from the separator, maybe more, facing the separator. A big belt ran from a wheel on the engine to a wheel on the separator. Two racks would come in at a time and the drivers would feed the stooks into the separator. The straw would come out or a big blower where the farmer wanted the stack put. This would be about eighteen feet from the separator. The grain came out of a small chute into a wagon waiting to haul it away. We used to ride our ponies under the blower and of course the 10 noise was deafening. Finally they would make a mad dash through. We would be covered with fine straw and chaff and mother would be upset when I undressed and the bedroom floor would be littered. As I said, times were changing - a Mountie no longer rode around on his horse with his bright red jacket and cars began to be seen. The Nunn men had the agency for the model T ford. Roads became better though later when heavier cars came, often a rock in the middle of the road would hit the oil pan. There were more businesses – a bank beside which was a vacant lot where we used to make spools with notched edges and wind string around them and when the bank men worked late, one of the larger boys would hold a spool in the window frame and pull the string which made a very loud noise. Then we would lie down in the weeds and watch the bank men rush out to see who the culprit was. It must have really upset them as there were no streetlights or other noises other than what we made. They never found us and again my mother never knew of my involvement. We now had a second school and we were growing up. But I still loved my ponies and road Diamond far and wide. My sister Helen really never cared for the ponies. She liked playing with dolls and she and her friends played ladylike games of house keeping, etc. I am sure her father was disappointed in her lack of enthusiasm for the ponies, but I made up for it. As other changes came, things were not quite so primitive though there was no electricity but, as well as the coal oil lamps, we now had gasoline ones. The light came from mantles as they were called which were almost like a net. There would be two to a lamp. Once they had been lit, one had to be careful not to touch them as the mantles would fall to pieces. I remember how excited mother was the first night we had one. The light was so bright and yet a soft white shade. Mother said she hated to turn it off and go to bed. We had coal oil lanterns to use in the barn. I was so accustomed to the barn and loft and hay yard I usually didn‟t bother with a lantern. I was never afraid of the dark. There was more social life now. Everyone went to church – though I‟m sure very few knew what “personal salvation” meant. I attended Sunday school and won prizes that really belonged to mother as she made sure I never missed. The ladies had a meeting each month called “Ladies Aid”. Every so often they packed barrels of clothes and quilts for missionaries. Once we had a lovely couple from England came a minister and wife. They started Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. We even had camps out at an Alilikia lake. We learned to tie knots, to be very honest, faithful and patriotic. Not that we hadn‟t been taught all these by our parents and in school and Sunday School except the knot tying. (I could tie different knots as I was used to tying down the ponies and had to be sure they were the right kind so that the pony could not choke himself.) My sister Helen was such a good child – always wanting to please her parents while I was quite willing not to unless I knew I would be caught. Many a spanking I had and deserved. Life was rather cut and dried for the adults. The women washed on Monday, ironed on Tuesday, baked on Wednesday regardless of what ever else might be in the offing. If one broke rank on these events it was noised abroad. I disliked Mondays, as while clothes were always boiled, supposedly to make sure they would be white, the house would be hot and steamy and smelled of boiled clothes and soap. Wednesday was the good day. The smell of fresh bread and buns was so very pleasant. We might be allowed a small bun or slice of bread but that was all as it wasn‟t supposed to be good for us until it stood a couple of days. Mother didn‟t fix us much in the way of rich sweet food, instead milk puddings, meats, lots of vegetables and salads. We always had apples sent from relatives in Ontario. These were packed in barrels. When they were getting low in the barrel I always had a feeling I might fall in on my head and not be able to get out. We had maple syrup and maple sugar also sent from Ontario. In summer crates of fruit came from BC. 11 We relied on Eaton‟s catalogues for clothes and shoes. Once in a while some lady would see the same hat she had or someone not quite the same social standing so the hat was never worn again. We would declare that the new shoes fit just fine though they were tight and got more uncomfortable as time went on. In those days we wore whatever was given us and never complained about it. The Nunn families seem to go places and do things others did not. Every year we would go to the Saskatoon Fair. The exhibits, merry go round, side shows and grandstand attractions were wonderful to Helen and me. Then in the winter we would go again to Saskatoon to see some special show that was advertised. We always stayed in the King George Hotel as it was the most noted of that day. Those trips by train were always exciting. In the summer we always went to Jack Fish Lake. It was a large lake about twenty five miles north of Battleford. I can still remember getting ready - Mother would bake bread, cookies, etc., prepare vegetables from the garden, get our clothes ready. In fact we usually lived in our bathing suits which were made of cotton material which stretched in the water. We used tents with us children sleeping on the ground. The adults usually took an old mattress for their bed. I still remember Helen and myself perched upon all the bedding, etc in the back seat. Cars had running boards in those days so boxes were strapped on them. We drove to a place called the “Crossing” where there was a log stopping place – a store and maybe one or two other buildings. Yes, there was a Catholic Mission with a bell. We were in Indian territory there. We had to rent big row boats – load everything in them and row about half a mile down a fairly shallow stream that connected Jack Fish Lake with another one. There was a beautiful sandy beach that went out so far that there was no danger of any of us drowning. When we reached the camp grounds tents were quickly put up – beds made – a fire started (we had caught several fish as we rowed to the camp site). The men cut some table legs from trees and put several boards on top. Then a large canvas called a fly was erected over the table. We did have several rainy days each year so more canvas was draped around the fly making it quite comfortable. When it rained we were warned not to touch the tent inside or it would drip on us. Besides us and Uncle Nellis‟ family, there would be others come for a week or so but we stayed a month. The men would go home Monday morning and come back Friday night with fresh supplies. We could buy some staples at the store at the Crossing. They were wonderful days. This might not seem so to today‟s youth. How glad I am that I had not knowing the word “bored”. Every day was full from morning to night, not enough hours in the day. My stepfather raised a few pure bred Herford cattle. He and mother and Helen, who was seven years younger than I took a trip to some of the ranches in Alberta. They spent some time in Calgary where folk from Inkster lived. Mother enjoyed meeting these folks as they had been good friends. They were the Ruttle families – Uncle Ike and George. More about them later on. I always stayed with Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee – in fact I spent a great deal of my time with them. Uncle Nellis was one of the finest men I‟ve ever known. Their home was my home. It was lively – Ralph six years younger than I but loved the outdoors as I did. Folk would say “no matter how cold it is, you can see Mary and Ralph outside. Mabel and Donald were the other two children. Auntie Gee loved animals – always had a cat. Uncle Nellis loved to hunt ducks and had sent to the States for a Chesapeake retriever who he named Barney. This dog played a big part in my life later on. Though my mother didn‟t like animals in the house, she always made sure our dogs were well fed. In the winter, she could break up some bread with the left over porridge and put some grease on it, heat it up with some milk so the dog could have a hot breakfast. I am more like Auntie Gee in many ways than like my mother. But she was a very dear mother to me and taught me many good things. However she could not seem to make a “lady” out of me. She tried to teach me music but I was not interested. Helen was the musician. She ha a beautiful voice even as a child. I remember mother thought I should learn to sew. She gave me a nice square of white cloth and tried to teach me to hem a handkerchief. My fingers got dirty, 12 the cloth got dirty, the stitches were very uneven and I think she gave up in despair. It amazed her in later years when I sewed so much for my children and myself. There were always plenty of chores to do outside as we had a cow, chickens, ponies and usually a horse though now cars were the means of transportation. On Sunday afternoon we would go for a drive – maybe twenty miles into the country. Flat tires were par for the course – at least two on a trip. The tire came off – the tube came out – was patched – then put back in the tire and pumped up. Grandma had two concerns – we children would be so hungry that she threatened to take a lunch next time – and we would be late for church. Uncle Roy was not married then and used to drive with the top down – going at least 35 miles an hour. He was the hot “rodder” of the country. Sometimes he would race with me and whatever pony I was riding. He was a good uncle to me. Uncle Jomp was only in Landis about a year as he went to Toronto to train to b a doctor. He was a good uncle too. After the trip to Alberta my folk felt they wanted to leave Landis. So when I was fifteen, they sold everything except three ponies, Diamond being one of them, and our furniture which my stepfather loaded in a freight car, and while Mother, Helen and I went by passenger train, he traveled in the freight car to care for the ponies and we headed for the west. It was hard to leave Uncle Nellis, Auntie Gee and the cousins – but adventure called. In reading over what I‟ve written so far, I realize that a great many changes had taken place since Mother and I first came to Landis. The town had changed - the country had changed and the people had changed. The main street had filled in with more businesses. The side streets were now stretching out with new business and homes. Because of the growing use of cars, private stables that held a cow and a team of horses were gone and garages filled their place. There were still two livery stables as winter roads were not kept open for cars. Even though there was little snow there was no heat in cars. Farmers drove into town several times a week bringing loads of grain to the elevators. Because my stepfather sold farm machinery we knew many farm families and were often invited out on Sunday for dinner. So often when Helen and I came home at noon, we would find a friend from the country at our place for dinner. In those days there was breakfast (porridge, toast and eggs), dinner the big meal of the day and supper, usually a lighter meal. Being in a grain growing area, there were four or five big elevators. They always fascinated me. They stood so tall and the prairies were so flat, one was never out of sight of them either in your town or a town near by. The hotel no longer had a bar so it was more of a family unit. It was a place where a family could have dinner and was run by a man and his family. In fact, my first boyfriend‟s family ran the hotel. There was a doctor now. I can still see him starting off on a cold snowy night to care for a patient in the country. The livery stable kept a couple of teams and a driver just to be sure the doctor had a conveyance when he needed it. There was a meat market and another lumberyard. Also a Chinese laundry where Sam, the laundry man washed and ironed – especially men‟s collars which were starched stiff. He was kind to us children giving us Chinese nuts and candy. At Christmas he gave us Chinese flower bulbs which bloomed in the holidays with beautiful flowers and perfume. Flowers in the winter were unheard of so these were a treat. Grandma Nunn had lots of plants including ferns, geraniums, and fuschias. Usually they were in cans with crepe paper tied around them. The paper would discolor and look bedraggled. I used to think I would never have plants!!! There were two schools now and a Presbyterian Church; also a skating rink not covered and one for the curlers. The Nunn men were great curlers bringing home prizes from the Saskatoon bonspiel. 13 World War 1 had taken place. We got very little news except what the papers wrote. I remember my stepfather reading from the papers over the phone to country people. There would be a list of casualties and these would be searched every day for names of local men. Auntie Mary Nunn, Grandpa Nunn‟s sister was a nurse in France and was decorated by King George for her services. I remember her showing us her medal. One of the older boys from school enlisted and got so far when the officials found out he was too young and sent him home. Of course, this made him a hero in our eyes. Several local men were killed or wounded. I remember Mother making potholders and Irene and I sold them and made about five dollars which we sent to a fund in Saskatoon that was raising money for the Belgium relief. We had a write up and our names published in the Saskatoon _______-my only plea to fame. Then influenza came that killed more people worldwide than the war did. Many Landis folk were very sick. My friend Irene‟s uncle died. He had come safely through the war. One of the boys we went to school with died and others. Those two stand out in my memory. We didn‟t have it the first year, but did the second. Mother and my stepfather were down with it too. But Helen stayed with Grandma Nunn and wasn‟t sick. I remember that all I was given to eat was jello and for a number of years, I disliked jello very much. Landis holds some very dear memories. I visited it twice after. I‟ll write more about that later. ALBERTA Mother, Helen and I set off by passenger train while my stepfather came by freight car bringing our household effects and the ponies. This was a common mode of moving when one was taking live stock. We planned to go to Youngstown where Uncle Ed and Aunt Annie Church had located from North Dakota. Uncle Ed‟s two daughters were there too, Grace and Lucy. Uncle Ed had a grocery store and also ran the Post Office. We rented an ex lumberyard. The office area was living quarters and the yard and shed were fine for the ponies. We spent about five months there having lots of good times with the Churches. Helen and I went to school while there. Youngstown was a prairie town, a grain and ranching country. Aunt Annie was always entertaining but was rather particular just who she might invite. She and mother really enjoyed this time together but spring was coming and we were on our way to Calgary and the west! Calgary is the only city I ever liked. In 1921 it was not a large one. No oil wells in Turner Valley. Streetcars went everywhere. Streets and Avenues were numbered starting at Center Street and Center Avenue. So it was easy to find one‟s way around. The Bow River ran from the area way up past Banff. The Elbow River, smaller – joined the Bow. It came from the mountains south of Banff. Where the rivers joined was the location of the original Canadian Mounted Police. It was a strategic site as the rivers protected it from both sides. There were still Indian problems. The Americans came across the border with whiskey that drove the Indians wild. There wasn‟t much law and order in Montana at the time. The Indians hated the white man – trusting no law officer for justice. The Mounties came with a promise of change and change they did. A lone officer would ride into an encampment to arrest an Indian and the chiefs had learned justice would be given. Red and white were treated the same. The whiskey runners soon learned that Canadian police were not to be trifled with. They soon stayed on the US side. Sitting Bull had taken refuge in Canada after the Custer Battle. When the Americans promised not to punish him, it was the Mounties who persuaded him to go back and because he had witnessed their justice, he trusted them. Calgary grew with the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway and was becoming a somewhat sophisticated town in the own eyes. So when we arrived there it was the main Alberta city. Edmonton really didn‟t grow until during the Second World War when it became the “Gate Way to the North” with the building of the Alaska Highway. Calgary was the oil center with the discovery of oil at Turner Valley several years after we went back to the farms and ranches. 14 My stepfather sold milking machines and Lighting set up for the farms and ranches. I remember one time he took Mother, Helen and me to visit a ranch he had visited. Wild strawberries grew in abundance near by and we were able to pick a couple of large pails full. But they were a distance from the ranch building so the ranch children, Helen and I went on horseback. We forded a stream and the local children pointed out a seepage that looked oily but no one paid much attention to it. By the time Eddie and I came to Calgary, Turner Valley was the oil center of Canada. There were oil well derricks everywhere. There was a large shallow pit where they burned the excess gas called “Hell‟s Half Acre”. It could be seen for a great many miles. The water in the stream was so warm steamed rose from it. We used to drive out in the wintertime for wiener roasts and in the deep depression many homeless men spent the cold days there. Some kind rancher would give them a beef or two so they were able to exist. But this is getting away from my story. When my stepfather and Mother visited Alberta a couple of years earlier, they had stayed in Calgary with friends of Mother‟s from North Dakota. Ike and George Ruttle had moved there some years before. “Uncle Ike” as we called him had been alderman and was very well known. He had a large livery stable in early days when horses were the means of transportation. He had every type of vehicle and beautiful teams and was well to do. But cars began to appear and the need for horse drawn vehicles declined. But Uncle Ike could not believe the need for horses would go away. He hung on until he lost his business and when we arrived in Calgary he had only a riding stable. But George, who was younger with a young family also had a riding stable, also teams of workhorses that were used on city projects. George‟s wife had died several years earlier leaving him with three young children. So it was to George‟s stables our ponies came and there I met the Ruttle children with whom I had many pleasurable times. They had such a good house keeper, a motherly English woman with the kindest of hearts. We had to get a house – I think we stayed with Uncle Ike and Aunt Ida for a few days. I still remember our parents and Helen in the buggy with a team of Shetlands and me on my pony driving around looking for a place. I will never forget my first view of the Rockies. We drove up a street that was higher than some and there they were, snow covered and majestic. I have never lost my love for them and little did I know that I would be riding in them, camp in them and crisscross them many times! We found a home – got settled and Helen and I began our schooling in Calgary. I went to Central High, the main high school of the city. I believe that there was only one other. Students came from all over by streetcar and on foot. I enjoyed my school days there having some very good teachers I have never forgotten. As we arrived in February, the spring horse show was coming up in April so our ponies were entered to be driven and ridden. So we practiced with Edith Ruttle – the other two were too young to enter. I can still see the old Exhibition building with its big arena where hockey was played in the winter and riding in the summer. Sometimes it was hard to get the ice out and the riding ring dry for the horse show and there would be damp, slippery spots to avoid. The show went on for several days ending on Saturday with children and pony classes and the final classes for saddle and driving entries at night. The last being the high jump. That was the grand finale! A Calgary horse held the honors for the world‟s high jump at one time. Calgary was a safe city. I could go anywhere by day or night on the streetcars. It is so sad that today children do not have that freedom. What a sad world! We attended the big Methodist church. Helen took piano lessons and did very well. Her voice also was lovely and she often sang at doings . The ponies were sold; I still remember my last ride on Diamond. I went away northwest over the prairies toward the mountains. Today I often stay with Japanese friends whose home is on that same area. I really didn‟t feel bad about the ponies going as they all went 15 to a country home and I was becoming more interested in horses and had plenty of chances to ride at the Ruttle barn. There I met Ida McTeer whose father managed the Sun Life Insurance Company and whose mother was quite a society lady. Ida was in her thirties and cared only for horses. She was short and rather plump and rode her big horse “Bluebelle” with an English saddle. Her type of riding was not the kind I liked but she was a very kind friend. We would walk, trot or gallop at certain times where Edith and I would ride over any ground at any pace. When Ed and I came back to Calgary, Ida was still there and we rode together again and she would often come to our place for supper. In those days there was always a Saturday matinee at one of the movie houses so several of us would go together. Those movies were so good – usually about animals or someone with sad problems. There were many “deaths” and we all shed lots of tears. Some were cowboy romances where the hero usually kissed his horse instead of the girl. Things have changed!!!! The Churches used to come in to visit us. Also Grandma Nunn came from Saskatchewan. By this time we had a car so used to go places in that. I used to walk quite a piece to school, then home for noon and back, then home at night. My arches began to bother me so I had to have them examined and was advised to wear arch supports that fit in my shoes. They could be adjusted from time to time. I wore them for several years as thet corrected my trouble so I was able to wear moccasins later on in Saskatchewan. Summer holidays were fun times. The Ruttle housekeeper‟s family rented a large house on the Elbow River. It was a very spacious place that would be under water in the years to come when the Glenmore Dam was constructed to give the city a greater water supply. But in those days, the water was shallow and slow running. We used to ride our horses along it for several miles. I would go out there with all the Ruttles and we had the horses and such a free time. Just beyond was the Indian Reserve. I wished I had been born an Indian in those days. We rode far and wide. One thing I could do was to make pancakes – so that was my job. I wonder how many pancakes I‟ve made during my life – camps, retreats, home, etc! I must admit that sometime they were better than at other times. My stepfather was agent for an English firm called Lister – that sold lighting machines, cream separators, etc. I‟m not sure how good business was but the company asked him to go to Ontario to sell there. So that meant our Calgary days were over. But I was sure that one day I would come back. By now I was nearly eighteen and because of changing from province to province my schooling had suffered. Canada has never had a federal educational system. Each province makes it‟s own decisions as to school time and subjects so certain things are taught in one place and not in another. Ontario was considered the best and anyone from there would go ahead in Western provinces. But going east from west one lost a grade. By this time Uncle Nellis and Auntie and family had moved to Winnipeg. Uncle Nellis‟ store in Landis had burned so he bought one in Winnipeg. It was decided I would stay with them. I really never realized the importance they played in my life until years later and in fact, as I write this it comes home to me more and more, the love and care they gave me. So we packed up again. This time no ponies, just household things. My stepfather went on to Toronto and Mother, Helen and I stayed in Winnipeg until he found a place. Then Mother and Helen left for the east. Winnipeg was a lovely city on the banks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. It was still a safe place where we could go walking or down town. We lived in the Fort Rouge area. It had been an 16 important fort and fur trading center in the early days. St Boniface was part of the city – mainly a Catholic center. Eaton‟s store was the big center for catalog business as well as local. There was an amusement park on the edge of the city with a Ferris wheel on which Mabel and Donald always wanted to ride and who would scream with pretended fear when it stopped with them at the top to let others off or on. I wonder if they remember? Isn‟t it surprising how certain things stay in our minds? It was so good to be with family again. Barney, the dog from Landis days was there and became my constant companion. We had also acquired a cat who had fits at times – she was called Hifits – not the right spelling but after the great musician. These animals always seemed to be part of our lives. Grandma Nunn came to visit and while she was very kind, she didn‟t have the love for them that we did. I remember while she was there we all slept out on the sleeping porch. But she was in one of the bedrooms. Barney always slept in there with us. One night Grandma went to the bathroom and on her return found that Barney had come into her room and into her bed. We rushed to get him out but I don‟t imagine grandma enjoyed the rest of the night. Then one day just as we finished dinner the plaster on the dining room ceiling fell down on the table. Hifits had a fit running wildly around followed by Barney until she fell exhausted in grandma‟s room! Uncle Neliss really didn‟t enjoy city life nor did the family. I never rode in Winnipeg though a friend of Uncle Nellis‟ asked me to ride his horse in a horse show. But I decided not to do so. It was not the shows that Calgary had. Finally it was decided to sell the store and go back to Saskatchewan. Uncle Nellis went ahead and purchased a store in Semans and one in the next town, Tate, where Grandma Nunn; Uncle Roy and his family lived. So we were off again taking the furniture, Barney, Hi-fits and all of us to a new home. We traveled by train and slept in berths. Mabel and Donald were in a top berth and kept climbing up and down much to the displeasure of other travelers and much to Uncle Nellis‟ annoyance. Semans was a good sized prairie town which I enjoyed immensely. As I had changed provinces several times, I now was eighteen and had a year and a half of high schooling and then teacher training. School in Semans was very good. We had grades nine to eleven in one room. In those days, grade eleven was equal to today‟s grade twelve so we did not go any higher. That was all one needed to take teacher training or normal school as it was called. There were about eight or nine in my class and we were the young people of the town. We had an excellent English grammar/language teacher – Miss McClure from Scotland. She was there because her elderly parents had come from Scotland to be near a farmer son and his family. Miss McClure had many offers from universities/other schools but remained in Semans with her parents. And she was surely a great help to her students. Our principal, Mr Pickle was of a different calibre. He taught math and science but managed to turn every lesson into a history session. His daughter was a sweet girl in our class and I know she used to be embarrassed at times. Uncle Nellis was soon elected to the school board and was a help to me when it came to geometry. My favorite subjects were English, history/ geography. I took French, Latin, English composition and grammar, geography, ancient history, Canadian history, British history and civics. Math consisted of arithmetic, algerbra and geometry and we wrote exams on each one of these subjects. I never had one spare period in all my school days. But I really did enjoy school and all I learned. Semans had some rather odd social castes. In this town where everyone knew everyone else – the ladies had an “at home” afternoon – once a month. This was each lady‟s chance to entertain others. One never knew just how many would attend – but of course there were those who never missed going to each one. One never knew what bit of gossip one might hear. Auntie Gee never cared for that part of the “at home”. Then there was the ladies bridge club. It was a well known 17 fact that there had been times of hair pulling at these events. Auntie Gee had no part in the bridge club. We young people had our groups too. Skating in the winter was the thing. Once a week the band to which Uncle Nellis belonged, would play for a couple of hours and of course the boys always asked us to skate and see us home. We really never paired off in those school years but enjoyed things together. In summer we walked or sat around outside evenings. The boys didn‟t have cars of their own and didn‟t get dads very often. Every Friday night there was a movie in the big hall where there were dances too. We took all this in and went for ice cream after. I had two special friends – Mary and Elsie – and we spent all of our spare time together. Saturday night was shopping night for the farmers. Stores stayed open until eleven or when the last family went home – so we walked the streets visiting with friends. And of course, we all attended church and Sunday school. It was the United Church and the minister had a large library – mostly fiction. I read and enjoyed all the Zane Grey books and looked forward to someday being west again. His wife‟s sister was in school with us and we were friends and rode together as he had a pair of cream colored ponies which he drove in the winter out to different areas where he held services. Grandma Nunn and Uncle Roy‟s family used to come over on Sundays or we would go over to Tate – about eleven miles. By this time my stepfather, Mother and Helen were back in Saskatchewan but I continued to live with Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee. Summer holidays, Helen would come to Landis to be with us as she was lonely and we always had lots of fun. Those were good days. Finally my school days were over and teacher training was about to start. Several of us went into that – others for nursing and one or two got married. By this time my parents were living in Saskatoon so I lived with them when attending Normal School. Saskatoon was a very small city. I remember it from Landis days so felt very much at home. A family from Landis , in fact, two families were now in Saskatoon one with a boy and girl I had gone to school with in those early days. Cecil, the boy was in University and Miriam was still finishing high school. They were a very hospitable family and I spent a great deal of time with them. I also met Earl Johannes who later married Mabel. He was a friend of Cecils and was studying to be a druggist. My Normal days were uneventful. We learned some things but those of us who had gone to an upgraded rural school knew more about teaching eight different classes in one room that some of our instructor who had not had that experience. Of course, city schooled graduates didn‟t have this experience either and had many problems in their first teaching years. Now I was back in Semans to find a school to teach. Uncle Nellis took the Saskatoon Phoenix and Star and that was where we would find ads of teachers needed. We would read the ads – see the requirements and location of the school, salary promised and where we could live. We usually answered several ads – then waited for the results. Schools started in the middle of August with nearly two weeks holiday at Christmas and the same at Easter. School was carried on until the last of June and city schools must put in two hundred teaching days while country ones must put in two hundred and ten to get the government grant. I heard from school called Dobrenutzo. (I am sure that is not the way to spell it but it has been a long time.) I would live a teacherage on the school grounds. Buchanan was the town that was twelve miles away. I accepted the proposal but Uncle Nellis was perturbed about me going there. He phoned to find out what he could from someone he knew in town who assured him I would be safe. But he had to know all about it or I‟m sure he would not let me go. I had to take bedding, etc. The place was sparsely furnished but comfortable. So I eventually set out with Barney and Uncle Nellis‟ twenty-two for protection. Barney had to travel in the baggage coach with a muzzle on. The 18 train men thought he must be vicious and wouldn‟t touch him so I had to put him on and off as we had to change trains. We arrived in Buchanan in the evening. There were quite a few people on the platform. I got Barney from the baggage car, saw that my trunk was off and went to find someone who likely had come to meet me. I saw one man who might know something so I told him who I was and that I was looking for someone who would be taking me out to the school. He asked around and finally a rather plump man came forward. His English was broken but he was one of the school trustees and had come for me. He went away and came back driving a big plumb horse attached to a buggy. He tied my trunk on behind the seat and we got up – the trustee, Barney and me. He wasn‟t happy about Barney but I insisted so we headed out. The old horse plodded along – certainly not breaking any records, but maybe he did – so few miles per hour. I tried to carry on a conversation but was not successful. Every so often he would slap the reins and yell at the old horse at which time Barney would turn and bark at him and he would hang further out over the edge of the seat. It was a dark night so I couldn‟t see much but we plodded on. Around midnight we finally turned in through a gate and I was there! He got out, went into the cottage and found a lamp to light. Then he deposited my trunk on the floor of the second room and with little conversation, left. So I proceeded to reach into the trunk to find some bedding and with Barney by the bed, I climbed in and went to sleep. I was tired. Next morning – Sunday – I was awakened by the sound of a ringing bell. I sat up and suddenly realized where I was. I climbed out, found some clothes and went out the door. To one side of the school yard was a farmyard and building; on the other side a church and a bell tower from which the peals came. Also were teams and people coming or already in church. So I went back inside, found some food and ate breakfast, then washed and unpacked my things. In the afternoon I checked the school room – looked around more – went for a walk and was for the first time and the last, homesick. I think I would have gone home if there had been any way of getting there. It would have been a long, long walk for Barney and me. But knowing tomorrow was Monday – the first day of my teaching career, I checked the school enrollment and found I had so many students with names I couldn‟t as yet pronounce and no grade beyond the fifth. So I went to bed. Morning came early so Barney and were up and prepared for whatever. He had inspected the area – found a nice place to relax beneath my desk which was large with a row of drawers on each side and a cave like section between. A rather amusing thing happened when the inspector visited one day. He came in, greeted us all and sat down at the desk. Everything was going well until Barney evidently had a dream and began to bark and whine. The inspector rose rapidly from his seat and gazed under the desk, then looked at me. So I explained that Barney was my uncle‟s dog but that he insisted that the dog would accompany me as I would be living in a teacherage. The inspector graciously accepted my explanation. I‟ve really thought so much of Uncle Nellis‟ care for me. Barney was just not a dog to him – he was part of the family and it must have really meant something to send him with me. The First Day of School Eight o‟clock - the yard began to fill with students- large and small. I went to the school and promptly at nine o‟clock rang the bell. The boys lined up on one side and the girls on the other and then I called them in. They stood by their desks while I greeted them and then opened with the Lord‟s Prayer. Afterwards, they sat down and eyed me while I stood up and eyed them. They ranged from six years of age to those who were fifteen. The law was that a child must attend school until he either passed the grade 8 government exams or reached sixteen years of age. As 19 grade 5 was the highest grade attained so far in this school, it would be a long time before anyone met the grade 8 test. I wrote my name on the board and said I would have to become acquainted with them and sat down and took out the attendance book. I am sure some of them must have felt that I wasn‟t much of a teacher as it was difficult to pronounce names. I had to find out who were in what grades. There were big boys who towered over me and little children who looked rather fearfully at me. When I think back, I am almost sure one of the trustees came and talked to them in their language. I think he admonished them to be good and learn what would be taught. By the end of the day I wasn‟t sure what I had learned and more sure that they had learned very little. Our educational system had room for improvement. The country was divided into areas of so many acres with roads to be made as needed. School districts took in so many sections of land with a school to be provided that children had no more than four miles to travel and sometimes in thickly settled areas less than three miles. The grades went from one to eight. After eighth grade, if a child wished to get further education, he must go to a town or city where he could take the high school grades from nine to twelve. In fact, in those days, grade twelve was equivalent to first year university. To have passed the government exams at the end of grade eleven, one could then attend Normal school for nine months and be issued a certificate to teach. When one had had two recommendations from school inspectors, one received a permanent teacher‟s certificate. To teach in the school I was teaching in, it was almost impossible for an inspector to really judge a person‟s teaching ability. I have explained because of the language problem, little was taught except the very basics. There was a phone in she school – maybe one of the very few in the district. It gave me a real sense of being able to talk to the family from time to time. Also, it helped me reach the authorities if I felt the need of a doctor to check on any of the children. There was a scare of diphtheria in the farm family next to the school. It was hard to make them realize they should not take a sick child visiting or have other children come to the home. Sanitation was not a priority! The children‟s lunch was a piece of dark bread (much better than white) and a piece of garlic. I expect the garlic kept them fairly healthy and the school air was really permeated with garlic odor. The church and parsonage with bell tower and cemetery covered quite a fair amount of ground. The priest could not speak English so we could not communicate. I think likely he wondered what I was like as I did him. He dressed in long black robes. Every Friday the last period of the day was open for religious teachings if the folk wanted it. He would come to the school and I would leave, going to the teacherage. Soon there would be a knock at the door and a little girl would say, “Please, teacher, those boys won‟t listen to father. He would like you to come and make them be quiet.” So I would go over and there would be order in the class room. I must confess that one day I did something that I am not really proud of. The farmer‟s pigs used to wander into the school grounds and I would say “pigs, Barney” and he would rush out the door barking and chase them. This day I saw the priest going across the yard to visit the farm – his long robes flowing in the wind. I said, “pigs, Barney”. Out he tore barking and running toward the priest who gathered his robes about him as he tore through the farm yard gate. I trust he didn‟t know that I was the cause of Barney‟s actions because Barney never paid any attention to him other times. I had to confess to my grandchildren that their grandmother was far from perfect . It was quite a sight to see a long row of children lined up across the schoolroom for reading class. The inspector told me to just work on reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic and if there was time, a little history and geography. Learning to pronounce English was a problem. I would not let them talk anything to English while at school. It was hard for them but they needed to be able to converse in it as they were the coming generation of that area. They had settled the area for miles and miles with no English speaking people as neighbors. The younger men were beginning to do business in this new -to them – language. I heard later that many of these who were 20 children went on to higher education and now make up, they and their children, a very good part of the population of the prairies. I soon met teachers from other schools – one in particular with whom I became very friendly. We used to spend weekends together – getting up early on Monday mornings and walking the four miles back to each of our schools. I could walk the four miles in an hour easily. She lived much closer to the area than I and we went home to her parents occasionally. Also there was a family with a daughter and two sons – friends of hers who used to come and take us to their place over the weekends. We used to go into Buchanan with one of the local chaps for shopping. Milk and eggs we could get from the farmers. There was a country post office in the district so I could get mail twice a week. Auntie Gee kept me in home made candy, cookies, etc and friends from Semans sent letters. In fact, my boy friend from there used to send me chocolates. The men on the school board couldn‟t read English – so they would come to the teacherage for a meeting. I sat at one end and Barney in front of me and they sat at the other end. I would read the school act and interpret it. They would discuss it between themselves and then reply. Barney would growl so low that I would be the only one to hear him. They highly respected him! Someone told me that the word “geometry” seemed to carry weight with them. There were so many church holidays that the government threatened to cut off some support if this wasn‟t corrected as the children stayed home on these days. So I called a meeting – read the school act - with a few “geometries” thrown in. Next day one of the trusties visited the priest and harangued the children as school was out so there were less holidays affecting school attendance. Weddings lasted three days at the brides and then three days at the grooms. By this time, of course, the home brew had flowed lavishly and many very funny things happened. My friend and I called in on one wedding in my district one evening. Things were lively but when someone knocked the stovepipe down and others grabbed sticks of fire wood, we left. We tried to have some social life so arranged a dance at my school. Each district seemed to be a law unto itself and of course, there were bottles of brew present. As the evening went on, someone came to tell us that the chairman of my friend‟s board and the chairman of my board were out behind the school – going to fight. We knew that some of them had revolvers - though usually chunks of stove wood were used. I still remember hanging on to my chairman‟s coat tails while my friend hung onto hers. - coaxing and threatening them for we knew it could end up in a fight between all the men of each direction. They finally gave in and we did not plan any further “social” events. Making the brew which so many did caused a great deal of problems. I remember being in one home and seeing this contraption behind the stove and thought it must be a way of heating the water. But I soon learned differently! I remember one day during the winter we were walking to my friends place and a young man we both knew, came along with his team and cutter (sleigh) and offered us a ride. So we got in and a few minutes later, he dropped the reins - pulled out a revolver- and shot into the air. The team bolted. Fortunately my friend was able to grab the reins and get some control of the horses. As they stopped, he got out and tried to tip the cutter over. We walked the rest of the way! It was a great experience. We never felt afraid. Our teacher‟s wages were comfortable. And of course in those days we were not used to indoor plumbing unless one lived in a city. Small towns had electricity as they would have their own small power plant. I didn‟t have to use the gun except to shoot a few prairie chickens that were good to eat. One night an owl was sitting up on the roof – hooting away. After a while I decided that I had been serenaded enough. The twenty two was by the head of the bed - so in the dark I grabbed it and shot right up through the ceiling. No more hoots that night. I‟m sure I didn‟t hit the owl for there was no evidence of feathers next day. I knew the bullet hole would be so small that the roof would not leak. But I would not do it again. 21 The school was called a summer school. Holidays were in the winter so it closed at Christmas. By that time, there was a school needing a teacher nine miles north of Semans and Uncle Nellis had made arrangements for me to teach there. I was overjoyed at that. I had so many friends in Semans – having gone to school there – and Butch, my boyfriend who worked for the meat market owner, was there. I am thankful for all the experiences I had a Dobrunutz???. I was not a Christian at the time (the reason for my misdeeds) for had I been, I might have been able to teach the children from the Bible as one could do in those days as the Bible could even be used as a text book if so desired. So I left having learned a great deal about ethnic groups. Barney and I boarded the train for Saskatoon after spending the night in a Buchanan hotel. At first the management were reluctant to let him sleep in my room but after I assured them he was a very well house broken protector of me, they relented. We stayed in Saskatoon for a couple of days with my mother and step father and then on to Semans to a warm welcome from Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee, Ralph, Mabel and Don and Butch and the rest of my friends. My time in Semans was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life. The school that I was going to teach was nine miles north of Semans on the edge of a vast tract of land called the Alkali flats. It was not suitable for farming because of the soil and it had a number of very marshy places where birds of all kinds came to nest. Some farmers let their horses run there as there was plenty of grassy areas. And during the next while it became very familiar or part of it did, to me. Later, during the war it became a training field for airmen. The school was called Wakefield and I had all the grades from one to eight with about twenty-six children. School houses were all the same – a high ceiling building – windows on one side (no screens) a big stove, teacher‟s desk, shelves for library books (very few), four rows of single seats (some had double ones), a small entrance hall and a big bell on top. The school yard was fenced and had outdoor plumbing and a barn for the children‟s ponies. There was also a big woodpile for there was no electricity or gas for light or fuel. In today‟s world, this seems very primitive but from these country schools came many a fine student who went on to be the backbone of our country. The schoolhouse was the social gathering place. Socials, dances, plays, political meetings all were held within their walls and as time went on church services and Sunday school s also. I feel rather sorry for folk who never lived in those days. There was much more to friendly relationships with others. As my school was nine miles out of town I had to board with a local family. Cars didn‟t run on run on snow covered roads where snow could blow across and make either a bank to cross or a detour through someone‟s field. And as I boarded with a family two miles from school, I had to ride horse back which pleased me a great deal. The Clem Simmonds home became mine during the week and then I would ride into town for the weekend. That nine mile ride when the weather would be 25‟ or more below, would leave me stiff in the saddle and vowing not to do it again. When I rode into Uncle Nellis‟s yard, Ralph would come out and catch me as I got off and take my horse to the livery stable. I rode Simmond‟s horse Rex the first six months, and then wanted a horse of my own. A horse in those days was the equivalent of a car today for young people. Uncle Nellis‟ friend had a horse for sale – a nice, quiet buckskin that his daughter used to ride to school. So for twenty five dollars I bought Buck. He was a gentle horse, I don‟t know his age, but his knees were weak evidently. About three times while I owned him, as we galloped along he went head over heels sending me over his head and knocking the wind out of me. He always seemed so sorry and apologetic. Having ridden so many horses and so much in Calgary, I wanted a more spirited mount. The livery man had horses for winter use. He drove mail twice a week out to country mail boxes so needed a good team. In the summer they were out in pasture. One summer, he let me ride one of them that I wanted to buy but as the horse was a good driving horse, he didn‟t 22 want to sell him. But another he would sell as she hated to be hitched to a vehicle but was good under the saddle. So he took Buck and gave me Smokey – a spirited roan mare. The first time I rode her she bucked with me on and as I yanked her head up, she hit me on the nose causing it to bleed and resulted in a black eye that I had to go back to teach and explain. I also got a good stock saddle that Uncle Jomp, the doctor owned. So I was well away and rode many miles up on the alkali flats that I wrote about. I would see “willow the wisp” lights as they were called. One could never get near them and my friend‟s used to laugh at me and tease me until one night several of us were driving a neighbor‟s girl who lived at the edge of the flats, home – and they all saw the strange lights. I have wondered what caused them. Some say march gases but I was never afraid of them or riding at night on the flats. I was always an outdoor person and loved vast spaces and the freedom to roam. The Simmonds family consisted of Clem who had been raised in England and his wife who had been raised in a military in India and two little boys – Duncan who was three and Cyril who was one. Duncan became a great favorite with me. I used to take him on horseback with me and every week when I would come back from town I brought him jelly beans. Once I brought something else and he was so disappointed. He was one of the boys I loved who went overseas in World War II. In fact, there were others who never came back. I learned so much about India from Mrs. Simmonds and to enjoy curried chicken. She was very considerate as to my lunch. She had been a teacher and one place she boarded; her sandwiches were filled with cold slices of turnips. The children would take turns bringing milk in the winter and the school board bought sugar and cocoa so I would make a hot drink for them. Lunches would often be frozen when they came to school. Sometimes we would all sit around the big stove to thaw out. I wore a divided skirt and blouse and in the winter I would buy a pair of boy‟s heavy breaches and wear them over my clothes as riding was cold. Then I would discard them during school time. The clothing of those days was not very adequate for the cold weather. Then in summer, the mosquitoes would be bad and windows were kept closed. No air conditioners! I used to visit every family – sometimes staying all night. The children always like to have me go home with them. Whenever it looked like a blizzard I would start them off home, and having my horse, I could always see that they made it. I really didn‟t have to worry for their horses would be sure to go home. Summer time nearly all the children walked to school. What a variety of scholars I had. There was one rather large family who played quite a part in things. A couple of teen age girls as well as boys at home. I used to spend time at their home. A Scottish family with younger children. I was so very glad to learn that the oldest girl had gone on to become a teacher. A couple of widows caused me some problems for different reasons. A family of Swedes whose boys used to hide their snuff in a fence post on the way to school and retrieve it on the way home. Farmers living on the edge of the flats were not too prosperous. The soil wasn‟t too good and maybe they were not the best farmers. Toward town and south there were very well to do folk. I almost lived two lives. Weekdays in the country with one group and weekends in town with another. In the winter we decided to put on a play for entertainment which meant practicing a couple of evenings a week. Usually once a month there would be a dance at the school. Everyone came and it would last until the wee hours of the morning. Many times in the summer we went home in daylight. But these were social events – times to get together. Friday I would leave for town right after school. In the winter, there would be skating or hockey at the rink. Each town had it‟s own hockey team. Semans team had two brothers who had originally played pro hockey and a couple of young chaps who were very good. After hockey, there would be some sort of social time especially when we won. The band played for skating on Friday and Uncle Nellis was a band player. Sometimes the curlers would be playing as both rinks were in the same building. Again, Uncle Nellis was an excellent curler. Saturday night was always the time farmers came to town. Stores stayed open until the last one was ready 23 to go home. This was also a social event. Folk from each area would be there catching up with local news. Also there would be a movie to which we all went. I remember taking Barney one time as there was a dog as hero of the show. He usually slept but I had him sit up to see what was going on and he became quite excited. He went wherever I went unless I couldn‟t take him and had to lock him in. I remember one time he got out and came to church checking each row until he found me. Talking of church, I remember one evening when Butch and I went. It was winter and as he took off his overcoat, a deck of cards slipped out of his pocket all over the floor. It was rather embarrassing. There were quite a group of us who had gone to school together and now were working at one thing or another, Mary, Elsie, Minnie, Jeanie, Butch, Finlay, Dick, Tiny (who was a barber and played hockey as goalie). We used to tease him for his activity in goal. He was like a monkey in a cage. Sid who was older and who played in the band. He farmed and cared for his mother and younger brother. He was such a nice chap, Uncle Nellis‟ favorite, but not as outgoing as some of the others. Jeanie was “central” in the phone office. I would go up in the evening sometimes and we would listen in to calls some chaps made to their girl friends. This was taboo and we were always afraid of mentioning something we heard. Central could cut in from time to time to see if they were still on the line. The dentist, who was older and rather “outgoing” was a favorite. (You grandchildren wanted me to tell things I did that I should not have done). The boys didn‟t have cars of their own in those days with the exception of Sid. But Butch used to drive an old Ford truck to make meat deliveries. Sometimes he would take it in the evening and we would all pile in and go to the next town or to someone‟s home. He was really not given permission to use it this way so when we were nearing town, he would shut off the motor and we would push it the rest of the way. It had a very noisy motor which could be recognized by the owner so it was better not to drive it at night when everyone could hear it. I don‟t know whether the owner of the butcher shop ever knew of this. He was a kind man who likely would have given Butch a gentle reprimand. If ever we were really stuck about going some place we girls could always talk Sid into taking us. We really didn‟t appreciate him! Fires in small towns were so often disastrous. Usually the stores lined the main streets with lumberyards, machinery businesses, livery stables and so forth along side streets. Uncle Nellis‟s hardware was about the middle of the main block. At either end were two large general stores owned by two brothers. They had finally closed one, majoring in on the other. The wife of one was from the east, very lady like-never on the street without hat and gloves. One summer night about three o‟clock the fire siren went and Auntie Gee came down to the phone to find out where it was. It was the empty store. Mabel and I were out of bed and dressed in no time and running the two blocks to the fire. The buildings were all wooden and very dry and the fire equipment inadequate. The store was burning very fast, a two story structure. Between it and Uncle Nellis‟ place was the harness shop, meat market and an empty space. Above Uncle Nellis‟ store was a big hall that was sometimes used for meetings or storage. It wasn‟t long before most of the town had gathered. As usual, the fire equipment, which consisted of a two wheel cart with a big hose attached, arrived. As usual everything went wrong. The water in the town well was low - the wheel came off the hose cart - the hotel owner who was helping had a heart attack and the fire chief slept through it all – maybe he wanted to? People lined up above the meat market – so out of the windows things were being handed down. But what strange things happened. Mirrors were thrown out while pillows were carefully lowered to waiting hands. Uncle Nellis went into his store and took some books of the business and locked the door. Next to his store was a dry good and clothing store. The poor man was in a panic. Folk rushed in and dragged things across the street that was muddy. Boxes of shoes were were thrown down. I know he lost an amount also as things were taken. The lady like wife of the burning store was out on the street every so often with her hat and gloves – inquiring as to how the fire was going. There was no hope of saving the harness or meat stores but up the side of Uncle Nellis‟s store was a staircase and a flat 24 roof on the back. So we had a bucket brigade. The water was pulled out of the well and buckets passed from hand to hand for over half a block to those keeping the roof and side of the store wet and watching for sparks. I don‟t know how many buckets I passed along but one doesn‟t feel the effort in the excitement. Fortunately there was no wind. By morning the fires were out and a very sorry looking half of the street was in ashes. This meant Butch‟s job so he left town. It was a very light friendship as I had my horse and Barney and who needed anything more. I saw him sometime later when my sister Helen and I were on a train. He was evidently with his wife. He didn‟t come to talk to us. Summer holidays were holidays. We teachers didn‟t take on any other work. “Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee had enlarged their house so it was good for parties. They let us entertain whenever we wanted. The power, which was a local supply, would blink at a quarter of eleven telling us that lights were off at eleven. However if we begged the chap in charge and gave him some money, he would leave the power on for an extra hour or two. Uncle Nellis would go to bed but I don‟t think he would get much sleep. My sister, Helen, used to spend summers with us out in Semans and of course Ralph and Mabel were now the younger young folk. Ours was the only house in town open to young folk at all times. Auntie Gee never complained. She used to make dandelion wine as we had to buy water and in summer it could get rather stale. She didn‟t have a recipe but went with a general idea of what was needed. Sometimes when one of the boys walked me home I would give him a glass of this wine. Well, as it ages, it became rather potent. I did not like it so didn‟t drink it. Finally it was noised abroad that anyone who walked me home could have a glass of Auntie Gee‟s dandelion wine and that it had a real kick. Auntie Gee threw the remainder out! By this time I was twenty-three. Our group was breaking up as various ones went to take jobs elsewhere. Things out at Wakefield were getting a little hectic. There were two widows who rather upset things. One had come back from eastern Canada with two children and was living with her farmer parents. We were never sure about her marital status. The children, a girl and a boy were very nice, well behaved blond children. But I guess life was rather dull for their mother. She was older than I and so we didn‟t meet socially very often. I knew she wanted to go into town for weekends with me but she just didn‟t fit in with our group and it wouldn‟t be right to have her stay at Uncle Nellis‟ home. Her father was on the school board so she complained about the teaching her children were receiving. The other one was much different. She had come from the east a few years before my time to keep house for a bachelor farmer. She had one son – a nice boy who was in school. Eventually she had married the farmer and had two young boys. Shortly before I came back to the area her husband had died. The farmers all hauled their wheat to the elevators during the winter months using teams and sleighs. The snow built up on the roads as winter went on and the side ditches had a great amount of snow in them. On Friday after school as I was going into town they would be coming home and of course being on horseback I had to take to the ditch to let them pass. Smokey use to plunge up on her stomach to get her self in and out of these ditches. Well, this particular farmer was one to drink and stayed in the livery barn where he caught a bad cold, took pneumonia and died. On the way to school I could cut through their yard to save mileage. The widow had to hire help to run the farm though she had a couple of brothers come from the east who knew nothing of farming. In fact that was where I met Jim Sharples – who came to work for her one year. The two brothers could handle horses. I remember one morning one of them had driven the children to school with team and sleigh. I don‟t know what happened but as I approached the school across the field the team came tearing along with no driver. Smokey was fast as good working horses or cattle – so I dropped my bag and chased after them. As I caught up, I gradually crowded them into circling so that I could grab the bridle of one and finally stop them. The brother came running up really upset as he realized that they could nave run into the home yard or a barb wire fence. A great deal of damage could 25 have been done. Another time one of the brothers came home late, tied his horse to the back steps that led up to the door and went to bed telling no one. His sister got up in the night, opened the door and fell to the ground causing some broken bones. It seems the horse got tired of being tied to the steps so dragged them away. Other things were happening. She was running around with different men and her family was suffering so our friendship ended. And I began to look for another school. I was accepted by a school near Foam Lake and again some quite dramatic changes came into my life. I had to sell Smokey back to the livery stable man, say goodbye to Uncle Nellis (he didn‟t send Barney and the gun this time), Auntie Gee, Ralph, Mabel, Donald, Barney and friends and head off to a new adventure. One never knew what to expect! One of the families I had been very friendly with out at Wakefield had relatives in the district where I would be teaching. So on hearing of my new location they offered to drive me there and visit their relatives and have me meet them too. That proved to be a very important meeting, for because of it Eddie and I eventually ended up in Calgary. One family had two boys (young men), a daughter and their father. Their mother had died some years before. The other family had a girl and a boy and a widowed mother. Both families farmed. And all young folk had horses and loved to ride. More of that later. We drove over on Sunday - school started next day so I went to my place of abode and checked in at the school. It was a typical prairie schoolhouse. One change was the trees – as this was tree country. As I checked the school for information of students, classes and equipment. I noticed the legal strap, a part of all teacher‟s desks, was missing and surmised someone had taken it. I said nothing about it but immediately ordered one. The first week or so needed no punishment as the children were checking to see just what kind of a teacher I would be. Having been a student in similar conditions I could understand their feelings. This district was so different from Wakefield. I had Ukrainians, American Indians, and English students but of course they were all Canadians though many came from families holding strongly to their ethnic traditions. I had all the grades again from one to eight and later took in grades 9 – 10 to help those who could not attend high school for financial reasons. Dave Sharples was one of them. I also had Ken in grade four – more of that later. Next thing was to become acquainted with my hosts. I was only a short walk across the road from the school. A girl and boy were in school and an older boy helped his father farm. The first morning I was awakened by pounding and swearing under my window. And I soon learned that the man of the family had a violent temper, though never directed at me. The mother was a kind, simple soul who said she had read only one book in her life and didn‟t wash her hair in winter for fear of catching cold. She milked eleven cows sometimes not getting done until eleven at night. She was not a good cook but tried to please me in any way she could. It was a very interesting two years I spent there. Harvest time was in full swing. Harvest times in early days were very exciting. Usually one farmer owned a big threshing outfit – steam engine and separator and it took a big crew to run it. One on the engine, one hauling water for steam, one checking the separator, two helping pitch sheaves in, four teams and racks to haul sheaves, two men in the field helping to load racks and two with teams and wagons hauling grain to the granaries and one helping to unload the grain. This crew was made up of local men. Each farm sent one or two teams, also extra men for field or loading help. And the poor farm wife had to feed them each year as they came to each farm. But the women helped each other and tried to out do each other as to food. It was a great honor to have it noised abroad that Mrs. X had set the finest table – her pies were prize winners and her cakes also. There was breakfast very early, morning lunch break, dinner at noon, afternoon lunch break and supper usually very late as the men worked long hours. Then, if it rained, often the poor on whose farm the outfit was working – had to feed the men too. 26 Mrs. O where I boarded was asked by two bachelor brothers to provide meals for the crew while they were threshing for them. As I said, Mrs. O was not a good cook. While she would be out milking she asked me to pour the tea or coffee for them and check on the food. I used to feel so ashamed as the meal would be cold meats – bread, warmed up potatoes – bought cookies – while other women would have a big meal of roasts, vegetables, pickles, fries, cakes and anything else they thought of. The men would be so hungry too. One time, Mrs. O was sick and her sister- in- law, a wonderful cook came to take over. She made a list and sent “Billy” off to town and the crew were astounded and pleased with their meals. I fared well as I spent so many weekends away and even week nights was asked out for supper. There were two big families in the district related to each other – though not all of them lived in my district. There was quite a variety among them and Billy didn‟t think much of any of them. Winter time, on a Sunday forenoon we would see a string of coyote hunting dogs come trotting over the little rise between the house and gate. Next came a sleigh with innumerable children and adults. Billy would take one look and head for bed and I would saddle Smokey and take off though it wasn‟t often I was home on the weekend. Once in a great while, I would stay to see what happened. They would inquire as to Billy‟s whereabouts but hearing it seemed to make no difference. One special time I remember two of the young lads found an apple box and proceeded to hammer it into splinters in the front room. Life was never dull. Mrs.O was related to these families. The fact that friends had driven me over to Malby and I became acquainted with their relatives made my social life interesting. They usually picked me up Friday after school and brought me back Sunday evening. As I said, they had saddle horses so we did a great deal of riding and visiting. We would usually go to two dances – Saturday night (farmer‟s night) and often there was a dance in some school near by on Friday night. They were all so good to me and the widow mother was a wonderful cook. Her brother was the widower of the other family. I became very good friends of the married sister of the one family and spent weekends there. Also in my district I used to spend weekends with Harry and Molly Pendlbury. Molly was related to the Sharples family by birth and Harry by marriage. As usual in these districts there were always disagreements causing bad feeling that divided families. Mother Sharples never became involved in any of these though other relatives did. She was highly thought of by all those who knew her. She had a special gift of knowing how to treat sickness and accidents. In those early days with no doctor near this was such a blessing. One time one of the boys had a bad cut over his eye. Mother Sharples cleaned it, then drew it together and fastened it with tape. Today, the wound hardly shows. This was just one incident she was called upon by her neighbors, so often to help in emergencies. She had a family of three girls and six boys. The Sharples family had come to Canada for health reasons having been told it was a land of “milk and honey” but soon found this to be greatly exaggerated. Eddie was the first child born in Canada. I first met one of the Sharples boys, Jim, who was working on a farm in the area of the school I taught out of Semans. So when I went to teach at Malby, the school he had attended and where his two young brothers were still enrolled, I met him again, but not Eddie as he was very shy. He told me that he remembered meeting me first at a box social held in the school – to raise money to fix the old organ. I evidently was collecting the money for the lunch boxes which were auctioned off. As I had not been there too long, there were folk attending who I had never met. Our next meeting was on the ice – skating. Parents of a student had asked me to spend the weekend with them and we went skating on their pond. They had asked Eddie and his brother Bill and Jont Pendlebury to come too. Skating was our winter sport and all young folk skated. The Sharples boys, being shy, didn‟t say much to me – but Jont 27 asked me to skate. Afterwards Eddie told me they had flipped quarters to see who HAD to skate with me. Bill lost but was so shy, Jont offered to be the one. My next meeting with Eddie was in January. Life went on apace. I spent weekends with the Simpsons and their relatives. The young folk had an old Ford truck with no top and we would all pile into it and go hither and yon. As the winter approached, roads became impossible for cars so it was teams and sleighs. My first Christmas concert was a success. Molly Pendlebury played the old organ for our singing and there were recitations, drills, little plays, etc. I had sent money to Mother in Regina with a list of names and ages of the children so she and Helen picked out gifts for each one. Then it was back to Semans for the holidays. It was always good to get back there as all the old gang would be home at the same time. Barney was always glad to see me and go for walks. There was skating – the New Years dance and good times with family and friends. Then it was back to Malby. I had to ride on three different railway lines to arrive at my destination. At a former school we had put on a play – so I thought we should try it again. By this time, I was well enough acquainted with the folk of my district to suggest this so we called a meeting at the school for all those interested. Among those who came was Eddie. The play was discussed and parts given out and Eddie became “Battling Bennie Boze”, the prize fighter , not that he had to do any fighting. Some of the chaps of the district had boxing gloves and used to spar off for fun, he among them. Practice for the play became our social life for a number of weeks. We would meet at different homes and of course had to drive back and forth with teams and sleighs. Gradually I became better acquainted with Eddie – and even though I was riding in someone else‟s sleigh, he would hop on the one where I was and ride a while. Before the play was finished, he was driving me back and forth and it became apparent we were “keeping company”. I remember the first evening he came over to visit at the home where I boarded. The lady of the home tried to sit up to keep an eye on us - but finally gave up and went to bed and never tried again. She was a dear, kind person with little knowledge of may things. Spring was coming and my heart returned to Smokey. So I phoned to Semans to Mr. Murney who had bought her back. “Yes”, he still had her and I could buy her back. But how to get her? Semans was on the CPR and Foam Lake was on the CNR and Smokey couldn‟t be sent where there were three changes. So Eddie said we would ride to the closest town on the Semans line and pick her up there. Mr Murney made all the arrangements and on a lovely spring morning, we set off to ride forty miles to get her. By the time we got there, she had been unloaded and was in the livery stable, so we left our horses there to be fed and went for some dinner before heading home. We got home that evening, the longest day in the saddle – eighty miles covered. But I was so happy – now I was free again with my own horse to go and come whenever I wanted to do so. Everyone was anxious to see the horse I had talked so much about and when she outran all the other horses, they knew I was right about my horse. We had many races by different ones but she always was there first. It was so good to have her as it was the same as having a car today. Life was good in the spring. Farmers were busy planing crops. Students were in the last part the of school year and were anxious to make sure they would pass into the next grade. Those in Grade 8 were studying for government exams that would result in them being able to go into high school if they passed. I only had two in grade eight – Eddie‟s brother Dave and the daughter of the family I stayed with. There was no doubt about Dave, but the daughter didn‟t have the ability to go on to higher learning. Even though Eddie was busy with farm work he would ride over nearly every evening or we would go to visit someone. The summer was almost here. My sister Helen had just finished 28 school and mother thought she needed a change so she came to stay with me for several weeks. Of course, I was still teaching so she soon became acquainted with the Simpsons who loaned her a pony to ride and where she spent some of her time. The last day of school came and a friend of the Simpsons offered to drive us over to the town where we had picked up Smokey. So I said goodbye to her, leaving her with Eddie and set out for Semans. It was good to be back with our friends again. Helen usually spent the summer in Semans. Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee‟s home was so warm and we just relaxed and had fun. Teachers didn‟t work during the holidays in those years. Ralph and Mabel were now among the younger folk who entered into what ever was going on. I can remember one time when Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee were away and I felt I must keep and eye on things. We had all been to a dance. I forget who I was with but I got home before Mabel. Later she came home escorted by Charley – who had quite a reputation and who was older than the most of us. I met them at the front door saying „where have you been?” Charley left and I told Mabel I was sure her folk would not approve of Charley. It has been a joke between us all these years. Summer went by fast. Teachers only had six weeks holidays as school started the middle of August. So it was back to Malby. Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee drove me over and met Eddie. Uncle Nellis felt I should not get married too soon but keep on teaching. I wasn‟t so very anxious to get married either. I had Smokey and now Eddie. I loved teaching so settled down for another year. In the fall my friends, the Simpsons, decided to sell out and move to Calgary. There was a sister living there. I bought one of their horses – Flash, a pretty mare with a mind of her own that quite often was not in accord with her rider. I can remember riding her down a Calgary street where the street cars ran.. We came to a corner and I wanted to go one way but she wanted to go another. She never put down her head and bucked – but reared up and took jumps in the area. This day she started her performance as a streetcar was coming behind us. She wasn‟t afraid of it but continued to jump up and down. The conductor was clanging his bell and getting closer and closer. Suddenly Flash decided to go my way and away we went. It was harvest time again and the farmers were busy. School was under way. The grade 8 students could not go on to high school as money was scarce. So I said if they would stay an hour or two after school and come on Saturday, I would teach high school. We just took the basic subjects – math, literature, grammar, history, geography, hygiene. Of course math consisted of geometry, arithmetic and algebra. We also took French. I surely had to brush up on those subjects having been away from the most of them while teaching the lower grades. The department allowed a student to study and write exams that would help them get into grade ten and eleven. Dave Sharples wrote them all and passed. He was a good student and eventually went down to Yorkton with his sister Eva and finished high school. Time passed by with the usual things country folk did for entertainment. Eddie asked me to marry him and I said “yes”. Christmas came and I went back to Semans for the two week holidays. We always spent Christmas with Grandma Nunn, Uncle Roy, Aunt Flora, Ruth and Esther either at Semans or Tate. It was always good to get back for a time with all of the “old gang”. There were parties, skating, and the event of the winter, the New Year‟s Dance and to see who was wearing what. I had bought a beautiful hand painted chiffon scarf – very large and very foolish to wear as a scarf. Someone suggested I have it made into a dress – the dress maker made a hole for my head to go through; fastened the sides (it was long enough to make back and front) and I had a new dress which was quite the talk of dresses for a while. Another time I had gone to Regina for Christmas with mother, my stepfather and sister Helen. While there I bought a lovely green dress with lots of tulle over skirts and again had an outstanding dress. This was not my 29 usual type of dress as I enjoyed the outdoors and riding or hiking so wore that type of clothing and have never been very clothes conscious. The holidays were over and I was back at Malby and school again. In stead of going back the way I went home, I could take the train from Semans east to Ituna, a town where I had Smokey shipped to and Eddie drove over there to meet me. It was a very cold day but with the closed in cutter, foot warmer and fur robes, it was very comfortable and a good time for us to catch up on all the events that had taken place. So I settled down to teaching and the usual winter things we did. There were a lot of skating parties, country dances, visiting back and forth and trips to town. Neighbors meant so much in those days and one had to make ones own entertainment – but life was much easier and in many ways more enjoyable for there was not the stress that is felt today. Towards spring I always seemed to have a desire to go or do something different so decided I would ride Smokey to Calgary to visit the Simpsons. When I told Eddie what I was planning to do, he said, “you are not going to ride all that way alone; we will get married and both go”. This kind of thing was not usually done and many folk thought we were crazy, including a number of our relatives. But I‟m afraid we didn‟t pay much attention to them so the end of June I packed my trunk and had it shipped to Semans and Eddie saddled Smokey and Flash and we headed for Semans to be married there. The minister was away on his holidays so we knew we would have to wait a couple of days. But Eddie had a phone call – his sister Anne had died and one of her twin babies. He felt he must go to the funeral so rode over to the railway line north to catch a train for Yorkton where Anne had lived. He told me he saw the train coming while a mile away and had to ride fast to the livery stable throwing the reins to the owner saying he would be back in a few days. It took Flash some time to get over that ride as she had a stiff shoulder. So I was in Semans and renewing friendships. It was during this time that Semans had their sports day. So I decided to enter Smokey in some of the races. Mr. Murney, her former owner had a couple of fast horses so the evening before the races we were over at the track practicing. He challenged me to a ride that Smokey won easily. Maybe he wished he had kept her. Eddie phoned to say when he would be back and the time the train would arrive in Dafoe so I set out to meet him at that time accompanied by Barney who loved to go when I rode any place. When Eddie got back, the minister had returned but was gone again. So we decided to go to Raymer, a town some miles away for the wedding. I had packed all my clothes except those for riding so Uncle Nellis, Auntie Gee, Ralph, Mabel and Eddie and I drove down in the evening. We had contacted the minister so they were expecting us as the wedding was held in the manse. The wife of the minister came out to greet us and thinking Mabel must be the bride for she was dressed in what the minister‟s wife thought suitable for a bride, said “oh, you must be the bride”. Mabel said, “Oh, no, she is” pointing to me. The poor minister‟s wife took one look at me and retired into the house, removing the bouquet of flowers from the room so they tell me. Ralph and Mabel stood up with us and the minister‟s young son, who seemed to have some mental problems – swatted flies during the ceremony. When it came time to sign the register the minister asked Eddie if he could write. It was a hilarious time, but our marriage lasted through thick and thin for just short of fifty-nine years as Eddies‟ death. Next morning Eddie brought the saddle horses to the door and began to pack them. We had a small pup tent, a tarp, gray blankets, a small pot and frying pan – two cups, bowls and plates, knives, forks and spoons. Eddie weighed much more than I so Smokey had to carry the bulk of these things. We also had a couple of duffel bags with our clothes. Barney was excited as he thought he could go and had to be shut up though did manage to escape and follow us for a block and I had to take him back. Uncle Nellis wasn‟t a hundred percent in favor of this plan of mine 30 but as usual was the dear, kind man who had meant so much to me down through the years. I think he and Auntie Gee trusted Eddie to look after me. We rode over to Tate to say goodbye to Grandma Nunn, Uncle Roy, Aunt Flora and the girls and then headed west- just following the back roads and camping as we went. There were no paved highways - sometimes a graveled road – but we kept to the back roads as it was easier on our horse‟s feet; a stone in the hoof could cause lameness. It was a very interesting trip. I wish I had kept an account of it. As it was July, the sunlight hours were long. We would begin to look for a place to camp about five o‟clock and there were many and varied ones. The horses had to have a place to graze and we a place for the tent. We would go into a farm yard and buy some oats and ask if we might water the horses. As we continued west we were amazed at the dried out conditions – Russian thistles, dried and collected in corners of fences – some places the depth of the silt under our horse‟s feet. One large farm where we stopped to water the horses had no live stock of any kind and were hauling water in tanks from a distance. They asked us to eat dinner with them and were saying the huge gasoline bills they would have in the fall – with very little crop to pay them. These were some of the farms that were abandoned during the “dust bowl” years. The Sharples farm was in bush country where folk kept cows, chickens and other kinds of live stock – so had meat, eggs and milk all the times. The horses became so accustomed to heading west after the first few days, they just began to head that way instead of trying to head back “home”. We would stop at farms to buy eggs and milk and in town for pork and beans, bread, jam, cheese; etc. We could camp safely anywhere – but sometimes for materials to build a fire, Eddie would take his knife and whittle a few pieces from fence posts. As we got farther west it was harder to find oats to buy for the horses. We had very good weather most of the way. Twice there were hail storms. We stopped one noon beside an empty granary as we could see a storm gathering. Unpacking the horses, we put everything inside – tethered the horses and waited. The storm came with a rush – huge hail storms. The horses pulled up the tether stakes and took off on the run back toward a farm where we had watered them a little while before. As soon as the storm stopped, Eddie started after them – leaving me to wonder how far he would have to go to catch them. Fortunately they had stopped in she shelter of a building and he soon came riding back. The other time it started to rain heavily so we turned into a farm. No one seemed to be home so we sought shelter in the barn just in time to avoid a very heavy hail down pour. After the storm a car drove into the yard and a mother and her two grown sons got out. They were somewhat surprised to see us but asked us to stay the night with them. One could not tell how much damage had been done til morning. Their garden and crop had received a great deal of damage. Once or twice it rained quite gently so we brought the saddles, etc inside the tent which became very crowded. We had to cross the South Saskatchewan River at Outlook where there was no bridge but a ferry. We had kept riding until it was dark although there would be a bright moon later. The rode led down a long hill to the ferry and the horses seemed to sense there was something different coming up. They were quite reluctant to board the boat so we got off, led them on and assured them they were safe. At the other side, the road led up a long hill, the moon was out and when we camped Smokey kept looking down at the ferry and snorted a few times. But we crossed other ferries on the way and in the years to come. We stopped at Youngstown and spent a few days with Uncle Ed Church and Grace. The town was familiar to me having lived there before with my folk. It was good to have a bath, wash out 31 clothes and visit. Now we were getting closer to Calgary. Some of the most interesting scenery lay ahead. We rode through Drumheller and the “Bad Lands” which Eddie had never seen. I remember the Saskatoon berries we picked in the “draws” as the ravines were called. Next we came to Dorothy – another ferry and at night. The ferry was on the other side and the ferryman was not about to come across for us – so we made camp. I didn‟t know it was rattlesnake country or I would likely have sat on Smokey‟s back all night. We did wonder if we should cross at night but thought better of it as we had no idea of the river‟s depth. It was the Red Deer River that comes out of the mountain and joins the South Saskatchewan I think. Next morning we hailed the ferry man and started across. Eddie tried to visit with him but he was not very talkative. Eddie asked him how deep the river was and he said, “never two days the same”. We were glad we hadn‟t tried to ford it. Our last camp in the evening, as I looked away west I could make out the Rockies. Next morning I said to Eddie, “there are the Rocky Mountains. He stood looking at them for a time and said, “I‟ve seen them before”. So amazed, I said “when?” His explanation was that one morning back on the farm in the fog as he looked up in the sky and there were the Rocky Mountains. He said no one else seemed to have seen them and laughed at him. But I knew it was a mirage and what it was like as I remembered in Landis days once or twice on a foggy morning I had seen a neighboring town with its elevators high in the sky. As we packed up that morning, we knew it was for the last time – and about four thirty we rode down Ninth Avenue passed the Palaser hotel – over the railway tracks to Seventeenth Avenue and George Ruttle‟s barns and riding stables. As George came out of his office, he could hardly believe his eyes. Here was the kid that used to ride her Shetland in the ring at the horse show and later, some of his horses who was friends of his children back and married and still riding. We phoned out to the Simpsons and Hughie said he would meet us at the end of seventeenth Ave and he would ride Smokey with Eddie out to their place about nine miles while I rode in the old truck with Rene, his sister. The Simpson family consisted of Mr. Simpson. Albert, Rene and Hughie. They had moved to Calgary to be near a married daughter. After selling their farm in Saskatchewan they brought their horses and household goods by rail and located west of Calgary where they had a house, barn and pasture. Their location was on the Old Banff coach road at Lookout Point. On certain days, one could look across to the mountains and feel one could walk to them – just a good hike but they were at least sixty miles away. We spent weeks with these friends – riding all over the area and just enjoying life. One day Eddie said, “Let‟s not go back to Saskatchewan”. I was quite ready to agree because I loved Calgary and the surrounding country. Evidently, George Ruttle had offered Eddie a job with his horses. He not only had saddle horses, but work teams as basements were dug, street work carried on, snow plowed from sidewalks all with horse power and he needed good men. So we moved into the Ruttle household. Mrs Ruttle had been dead for years and there was a house keeper - Miss Northcott. The Ruttle children were home – Edith and Kenneth with whom I had ridden and spent time with when my family lived in Calgary. I did a great deal of riding – both our horses and horses being trained for hire for the city streets. As to the farm back in Malby, Allan, Eddie‟s older brother had come home before we left and wanted to work on the place. He was the only one of the Sharples boys who really was a farmer at heart. His land was always clean, his horses in excellent shape and as there were already Dad, 32 mother, Allen‟s girlfriend, Bea, Dave and Ken there, Eddie knew it was best for us not to be there. The farm was in Eddie‟s name as a good neighbor had loaned him the money to save it from being lost for taxes and other debts. Dad Sharples was not a farmer. Eddie told Allan we would not expect any money from the crops but just to pay back the loans which was quite a bit for those days. It took a number of years for this to happen but when it was clear, Eddie signed the home place over his mother – urging her to always keep it. Allan got a quarter section and Eddie sold one quarter section for $1600. By the time we received this, we had already spent some years in Kelowna. To get back to Calgary – a couple of months after we got there Mr Simpson died quite suddenly so we went out to their place to look after things – while his family took his body back to Foam Lake for burial. Eddie used to ride into the city every morning and back at night. Usually I would ride to meet him in the evenings. As we were into fall and knowing that our first child was on the way, we decided we needed a place of our own. Calgary had many homes with suites to rent. So we started looking. My mother came from Edmonton for a visit and spent some time with us. We finally decided on a two room place near the Holy Cross Hospital and not too far from Eddie‟s work. The owners were an older couple with an older daughter, quite nice – but rather staid. We were there til March when we felt a change would be better. We eventually found a lovely place at the foot of Mount Royal with a Jewish family – the Cohens - and closer to Eddie‟s work. Here we spent three and a half delightful years. Hyman Cohen was a cattle buyer and owner of a ranch in Southern Alberta. Mrs Cohen was one of the kindest persons I ever met. They had three children, two boys and a girl. Hyman‟s single brother lived with them as they had a big house. There was also a maid – Margaret. As I had gone to Sunday School so much I was acquainted with the history of the Jews and many of their customs so felt very much at home with the Cohens. Hyman was a kind man who taught me how to make head cheese (a favorite with my grown family) NOT! He used to bring us meat and chickens from the ranch. But he and his brother Abrush did not always see eye to eye. They would play pinochle until one felt the other was maybe cheating. Then each would grab the quarter they had gambled with and refuse to play anymore. Hyman‟s parents had been killed in Russia in an uprising against the Jews. Abrush had recently escaped from Russia after being jailed and threatened with death so that his nerves were on edge. Mrs Cohen‟s parents had escaped from Russia and were living in Calgary. We soon became acquainted with most of the Jewish folk in the city. When it was time to remembrance of the Passover – we ate mozza – the unleavened bread. I used to help her grind the horseradish for the bitters. We were frequently asked to eat with them as Hyman was away so much. If I asked her to have tea with me, she would laugh and say “If there is lard in anything, don‟t tell me”. We had such good years in Calgary. Eddie found a friend - Jack Forester – who loved to play checkers. They often went to the club and played with good players. I was not a checker player. If ever I won a game I was most amazed as I knew it was not me seeing good plays. Eddie and Jack went to night classes and studied math and electricity. I continued to ride especially with a friend of former years, Ida McTeer. Her father was manager of the Sun Life Insurance Company and had always rented a box at the spring horse show to which we would be asked to share. Ida also drove the car and we had trips to Banff, etc. Ida who was quite a bit older than I had a crush on Lornie Church – uncle Ed‟s son who came to town every so often. I don‟t think Lornie was quite as interested – but Ida loved to talk about him and I knew her folk were not happy with her involvement. However, nothing came of it and Ida died a few years after we moved to Kelowna. 33 She was just a misfit in a very socially inclined family. She used to drive her horse in the Stampede parade and because she did not have the best control over it, I would ride Smokey along side to give her a hand is “Irish Lad” became balky. Helen was born April 29th – a big 8 pounds 6 ounces – a healthy husky baby. Mother had come from Edmonton and stayed a couple of weeks. Having had little to do with babies, after mother left I thought – “well, Helen is such a big baby and seemed no trouble I might manage.” But again Mrs Cohen came to my rescue and helped bath and check on the baby. Margaret always hung out the washing and so I fared very well. The youngest Cohen child, Manuel was going on three so Mrs Cohen gave me the baby bath, crib and carriage to use. We were so well looked after. I still rode – in fact, took Helen lying on a pillow across the saddle in front of me when she was six months old as we wanted to go for a picnic. I can‟t understand why she never became a great rider! Life went on with Eddie‟s work – me caring for Helen but still doing a great deal of riding. I used to ride the new horses George bought to accustom them to city traffic – especially streetcars. So we were busy with one thing or another. George had an old car whose brakes were not the best. Sometimes we used it and that was scary on the hill streets of Calgary. The stampede was a big attraction. One year Eddie drive George‟s outfit in the Chuck Wagon race. I let Albert ride Smokey as an outrider as she was so dependable. In fact, one night it was decided to put Buck, an old Indian horse, on the lead as he was so fast. However, he had a mouth like iron and having ridden him, I had had some experiences with him just taking the bit in his teeth and going wherever he wanted to go. That night he decided he wanted nothing to do with the race - but headed for the field that had a big seven foot gate closed. The team just ran into it , took it off the hinges and tore on. Albert had not seen what had happened and could not imagine why Smokey took off to the field. She knew she was supposed to follow the wagon. It was a good thing as the other riders took off on the track and Albert was needed to help slow the team. I was sitting up in the grandstand – so you can know how I felt as I saw the outfit take off in the wrong direction. The only mishap was a cut on one of the horse‟s lips. I am still amazed as I think about it. Christmas time we went to Westlock - north of Edmonton where my parents were now living. A friend of my sister Helen worked in Calgary but his parents lived in Edmonton so he took us up several times. Helen used to come down to visit. We had friends with whom we played bridge and Jack Forester‟s parents were so good to us inviting us for meals. Charlotte, their daughter, was a teacher working up near Edmonton. Later, she married Bud Splitzer. In the summer when she was home Bud used to take us on trips by car to the mountains and we even went for corn roasts hear the caves on the Bow River. When Helen was a year old, my sister Helen, her husband John, Eddie and I planned a trip with pack horses to Banff and area. Mother took Helen up to Westlock to keep her while we were away. My sister had ridden as a girl but John had no experience with riding or horses. Eddie made pack saddles – learned to tie the diamond hitch that usually prevented packs from becoming loose or buck off. The selection of horses was rather interesting to say the least. George was always buying – selling – trading so he didn‟t have some of the best. As we were not paying to use them and as his best had to be kept for his business, we had quite an assortment. I let Helen ride Smokey as she was dependable; John rode a quiet, old mare with a mind of her own, but who would not run away with him; Eddie rode Buck, the villain of the chuckwagon race; I rode a little mare with a mind of her own who would run away or try some other trick. Our three pack horses were another conglomeration – Brownie, fairly steady, a colt not too well broken, and one of George‟s trotting horses-blind in one eye! As we assembled ourselves at the stables, Eddie began 34 to divide the equipment as to weight and bulkiness. John and Helen were no help. I later did pack and tie the diamond hitch, but mostly just held the horses and “obeyed orders”. With three pack horses to lead, John was not required to do this. He would open gates, etc on the trail. Finally we were ready – or thought we were and we started out down the lane. Eddie was checking all the time to see how the packs were riding. After a number of adjustments, starts and stops we rode about ten miles out of town and decided to stop for the night. As we were tired, we had something to eat and did not even put up the tent but slept under the stars. Next morning bright and early we were up and anxious to be on our way. It was a little easier getting packed and heading out. I‟m sorry I did not keep a diary of each day – for each day was a story in itself. However we traveled more that day and set up a good camp at night. The horses were picketed each night and quite contented to graze. We traveled the Old Banff Coach Road – which was not used as much as the highway was on the other side of the river – so traffic was not heavy and there were good campsites with water and grass. Our food menu was rather simple – coffee, bacon, eggs, toast, jam, pork and beans, sandwiches, some baking mother and I had done. We had a friend who drove a truck with supplies and he took a couple of boxes to Banff for us. There were no towns to buy things on the way. One day, about the fourth day out, we decided not to unpack the horses but just let them graze with the packs on. The ropes that held the packs were also the ropes used to picket the horses. We tethered the pack horses to a couple of the saddle horses and picketed the rest. The blind eye mare was always rather spooked – seeing something behind every bush. As we were eating, she suddenly let out a snort and before we could reach her the others were spooked too and took off on the run. Eddie grabbed Smokey‟s lines and lit out. The only one left was the one John rode who never got excited. So I was able to get on her and follow. Believe me, she ran that day as she hadn‟t in years. I followed the trail through the bushes, packs scattered until I caught up with Eddie who had several of the horses corralled. Buck was not among them so I went off after him. About a mile further on he was standing in a dazed manner the saddle under his stomach and his hind foot through a stirrup. He had a rope around his neck but I knew I could hold him with a bridle so I got the rope off of him, tied the mare to a post and got her bridle on him. To this day I don‟t really know how I managed. He was still rather dazed but he was showing signs of recovering and I knew he would not stand still. With a leg through the stirrup he could easily break it if he ran again. He began to plunge but as I really yanked on his head, he fell down and the only way I could keep him down was to sit on his head. While I‟m sitting there, a carload of Indians went by and cheered me on but didn‟t stop. In a few minutes Eddie caught up and uncinched the saddle so when Buck stood up he was able to get his leg out of the stirrup. We headed back collecting articles of wearing apparel, tins of food, blankets, etc, etc and returned to find John and Helen in a state of shock. We unpacked everything, picketed the horses securely and took stock of what we had. Later we went back over the trail the runaways had left and found more things. Next morning they were as docile with not a thought in their minds of doing anything disastrous – until the next time! One of the loveliest spots where we camped was on the Morely Indian reserve as you are nearing the mountains. We approached the Indian agent to ask permission and he sent us to one of the ranchers who was quite agreeable and directed us to a spot where a beautiful flow of spring water came out of the side of a steep rise. There were trees to camp under and grass for the horses. The railway line was above us and I remember walking a distance toward the mountains as the evening advanced and purple shadows began to show on the peaks. The only catastrophe at this spot was a food one. Mother had made matrimonial cake and we had eaten some for supper. We left the tin lid on, the butter lid on, as we retired. Next morning the lids were off, only a few crumbs of the cake left and holes poked in the butter. In the nearby trees sat a group of magpies waiting for another handout. We had been eating the cake sparingly hoping it would last us a spell. We surely learned to have food well covered from then on. I have traveled the new 35 highway through the mountains many times since coming to Kelowna, but as I think back, the view I saw ahead to the rising Rockies is as fresh in my mind as though it was yesterday. We traveled on crossing streams on strange bridges not meant for travel, taking short cuts over fields and over fences and enjoying every inch of the way and had no problems reaching Banff by a back way which helped. We received directions as we entered the park and were told of a corral where we could keep our horses and camp by a stream near by. Banff was a small town in those days. We could ride horses on the main street, tie them up and go into a café for a meal. John and Helen took trips by bus to several areas – but Eddie and I rode wherever we went to see the sights. I was in Banff a couple of years ago (1994). It has become a tourist “trap”. The traffic, both vehicle and foot is almost impossible at times. I like to remember the Banff I knew in 1932. Our stay was most enjoyable. Our return journey was about as eventful as our journey to Banff. As we were breaking camp one morning, we noticed the blind mare was lame. Eddie couldn‟t see anything wrong but as she walked with the pack on, she was quite lame. So we decided I should try to ride her and see if that would help. It did as long as I was very easy in the saddle, going with her gait. So we had to pack another horse. Eddie said Buck would be the one and he would ride Brownie. Buck stood quiet to be packed with me holding his rope and Eddie finishing the packing. He told me to tie him to a tree. I started to lead him but had the rope yanked violently out of my hand as Buck started to live up to his name. Diamond hitch or not, everything went flying. Finally he decided he was rid of that thing on his back so settled down. New arrangements had to be made. So, finally we got started. Things went well for several days. Then as we were passing through the Indian Reservation the colt, evidently feeling his girth slipping and being pinched, bucked wildly. He was carrying the food and bacon strips were hanging in the trees, jam running down his shoulder, etc. Eddie finally got him under control but not before several Indians appeared on the scene with no offer to help but enjoying what was going on. This trio consisted of a large elderly Indian on a flea bitten old gray horse and two young chaps. The older one offered some sympathy by saying “colt buck pack off – too bad” and then “haw haw haw”. It is funny now but was not so then. This was the last of our problems and we arrived back in Calgary safe and sound. I don‟t think John and Helen wanted another trip but Eddie did and went on others. One winter Jim and Bill came and stayed with us for a while. They finally found jobs on farms but used to come in weekends. Jim was very musical, had a good voice and hunted up a Sharples family in the city who were quite musical so enjoyed time with them. Toward spring Bill felt that he should go back to help on the farm. We hated to see him go, as he was good company. Mother Sharples came to visit also and my mother came from Edmonton so we had lots of good company. We had friends move into the basement suite at Cohens. Eddie and I helped Mrs. Cohen paper the rooms. The pipes were on the outside of the ceiling making it very difficult to paper there. We had had no experience so got a long strip pasted and the three of us tried to put it up. What a time we had. So Hyman came down to help. He got his head through the paper which was thin in those days and after a few tries, rolled it up, threw it in the corner and went upstairs. We learned to put a small piece up at a time. Lee and Kelly Rose were the names of our friends and we had good times going places together. We used to go to the Methodist church – but often went riding instead which used to make me feel guilty, especially if folk were coming out when we went by. We used to have company too – Ken Ruttle would come for meals. He wasn‟t very happy at home with the housekeeper and her son who was his age. Later he married a very nice girl, Anne, and she would come too. In fact, we still keep in touch. They visited me last summer (96). Edith also keeps in touch. 36 Another interesting friendship was renewed when mother was down visiting. We were down shopping one day when we met Mrs. Martin who lived in Landis when we did. She and mother recognized each other and so, of course, old times became the topic of conversation. She was living in Calgary with her daughter Dorothy and son in law Bill Gray. Dorothy was older than I but I soon found she had horses and riding was dear to her heart as well as mine. So from then on, we rode frequently. She used Flash at times and we went on a trip with a packhorse and our saddle horses. I learned to tie the diamond hitch when packing supplies. We went a way up the Elbow River where Eddie and I had gone taking Helen, a baby, and using the chuck wagon he had driven in the stampede. We were able to sleep in it and it was so good for Helen as she could play or nap as we traveled. Our tent was still the small pup tent that Dorothy and I used and I remember the chip monks running over us in the early mornings. Dorothy was such a good sport. Bill was not a very nice person. He didn‟t treat Mrs. Martin well though she had given him sums of money. He was trying to climb the social ladder and I heard after leaving Calgary that he had left Dorothy. But both Mother and Mother Sharples enjoyed visiting with Mrs. Martin while in Calgary. The depression was slowly expanding. Times were very hard on the prairie farms. Young and old men used to ride the freight trains – traveling back and forth trying to find work. Many worked just for their board. The oil wells at Turner Valley were producing and the natural gas that was escaping had been set on fire in a large pit called “Hell‟s Half Acre”. We used to go out there for wiener roasts in the winter as it was very warm near the flames. The men would gather there for the winter to be warm and to try to survive until spring. I heard that the ranchers often gave them an animal to butcher for meat. If a person did not experience those times, it is hard to realize what people suffered. Eggs 10, 15 cents a dozen, milk 10 cents, bread six loaves for 25 cents. We were so fortunate as Hyman brought us meat and chickens from the ranch. The city began to lay off men and teams so George lost business. Eddie went out to friend‟s farm for threshing times. He was such a good worker so was in demand. Helen was now over three and Mabel was on the way a few months later. We knew we had to have more room and thus had leave Cohens. So we started to house hunt. We found a two bedroom one further out. It was not furnished so we had to buy our own – which was quite sparse. By this time I was not riding so much. We still had Flash who had had two colts. One died quite young and the other we were able to raise. I didn‟t know what to do with Smokey. I would never sell her so finally I gave her to a young couple who were going farming. He loved horses so I asked him to be sure to always keep her. It was hard to let her go but to keep horses was getting expensive. Flash had died the winter before. It seemed as if we were not to have horses anymore. Eddie worked at so many things. He put bathroom fixtures in for the storekeeper, who was Jewish, where we dealt. Twenty- five cents an hour was the going wage and we could live on that. Lee and Kelley Rose who lived at Cohens when we did came back from a job he had out of town and lived with us in the little house for a year. When Mabel was only three months I had a virus pneumonia. It was an epidemic in the city – one prominent doctor died. The hospitals were filled but we had joined the Victorian Order of Nurses so had some care from them and our doctor. Kelley had to take care of Mabel who I was breast feeding. I don‟t know what she fed her as I was delirious with a high temperature for days. Finally the mother of the young man who had Smokey came and spent the night and put strong mustard plasters on me and the fever broke. This was during one very cold spell in Calgary. I recovered very well and life went on. 37 In the early spring mother was having trouble with her knee. We were planning a trip back to Saskatchewan in the summer so we decided I would take the children and go to Westlock where the folks lived and Eddie would board with the Forsters – Jack‟s parents who had been so good to us. We gave up the house and sold some possessions and looked forward to the future trip. After I had been in Westlock for a few weeks, mother‟s knee showed no improvement so she went into Edmonton to stay with John and Helen and take some treatment. In time it was better. Eddie came to Edmonton and we all set out for Saskatchewan, our first trip back after five years. The cars were roomier in those days – three could sit in the front but we were a bit crowded. We had some roads!! And a bit of car trouble but made it to Battleford to visit Uncle Jomp and Aunt Elsie the first day. While there it was decided that we would all go to Landis to visit friends. Uncle Jomp took his car with the seniors and Eddie drove my stepfather‟s. Helen and I had been telling the men about the nice house we had in Landis but we went right by it as other houses had been built around since we left. It surely didn‟t look like the house we had described so we were teased for exaggerating. It was a nice three bedroom house in our days painted white. But it hadn‟t been kept up. From that time I never wanted to go back to where I had lived as so many changes take place. We went on to Tate and Semans where Grandma Nunn , Uncle Roy (who had cancer in his face), Aunt Flora, Ruth and Esther live – and uncle Nellis and auntie Gee , Mabel home from teaching, Ralph, Olive and Don in Semans. I saw a number of old school mates and friends. Then Eddie, Helen, Mabel and I went on to Foam Lake. There had been such heavy rains roads were in bad condition (no pavement). Ralph drove us to Defoe to catch the train to Foam Lake. Eddie‟s Brother Allan and Bea were married while we were there but we didn‟t see many folk because of the weather. But we had a good family time with everyone and headed back for Alberta. Eddie went to Calgary to his job and I followed in a few days. We house hunted and found a suite above a little store. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jacobson and daughter lived behind the store. Again, we found very kind, caring folk to deal with. Times were much worse but Eddie was able to get work with the Bennett and White construction firm and worked on the Glenmore Dam and the Curry Barracks. Very hard work it was. I remember one time when he went to work at seven Saturday morning and didn‟t get home until that time Sunday morning. They were pouring cement and had to finish a section. It was done with wheel barrows and as they took loads in, some would fall off and harden-so the barrow bumped over these making a man‟s hands and shoulders ache. Eddie could hardly keep his hands open for some time after coming home. They were so cramped from holding the barrow handles. Our lives changed from horses to politics. Alberta‟s government had just come through some scandals. There was no money in the treasury and we began to hear talk of a social credit party. A high school teacher, Mr Abrahart, who was connected with the Calgary Bible College and who would be on the air every Sunday afternoon with a gospel message, began to have discussions with a young man, Ernest Manning who had come from Saskatchewan to study at the Bible College. These talks were in regard to the state of the Alberta government and to discuss a book published by a man from New Zealand -called “Social Credit”. These discussions became very popular and people began to listen. As time went on, more and more folk started to lean toward this idea of a new party in politics. Each area of the city was divided up into areas and had a Social Credit head quarters drawing many to join. Eventually I became secretary of our group and we worked to support those who were willing to run for office. I was asked to run as a member for the city council as this new idea of government spread from provinces to cities. But I had no desire to enter any political race. But we all worked and spoke for Social Credit. I remember Ernest Manning - a very young, single man coming to speak at our meetings. The 38 Social Credit theory was a very different style of government. But the next election saw them win. Because of the very poor economy they published “funny money” as it was called and asked folk to take the twenty-five percent of their income with this type of currency. We always did – some did not – but as soon as the new government was able to collect taxes they were able to redeem all the “funny money”. Ottawa was very opposed to anything the new government wanted to do which made some of the promises impossible to carry out. About five years into Social Credit, Mr Abrahart died quite suddenly and Ernest Manning was asked to take his place. He was such a fine man and during the years while he was in office there was never a bit of scandal connected to him. Every Sunday he carried on the radio gospel messages that Mr Abrahart had started. Times were still very hard and of course, work was hard to find. Mr. Ruttle‟s teams were no longer employed by the city. Eddie did every kind of job, even putting bathroom fixtures in for a general store keeper where we dealt. Wages were twenty five cents an hour. George had a friend who had a farm of his own and one he ran for a relative in England – one about twenty miles at – De Winton, south of Calgary. He had cancer so lived in town during the winter. His brother was supposed to look after the places but was lazy and couldn‟t keep up with things. There were about one hundred or more head of cattle and thirty horses on the one place. He asked George if he could find some one able to come there to live. And be able to take charge. So George came to ask us to go. The wages were fifteen dollars a month – chicken, milk, garden if we wanted so after some thought we decided to go. Fifteen dollars bought a great deal of food in those days and with milk, eggs and chickens I raised, it was quite a good deal. By this time, Helen was six, Mabel going on three and Dick on the way. So we started a new phase of our lives. Life on the Ranch-March to March We started out with our furniture and us on a big truck but a few miles from the house we had to transfer everything to a big rack on sleighs as there was lots of snow. Finally we arrived. The house had two bedrooms, kitchen, dining, and living room. It wasn‟t a bad little house for a prairie house of those days. There was a big storage space in the kitchen which I made use of in the summer months as a bedroom when folks came to visit; a big back porch for storing wood, etc and small front porch at the front door. The yard was fenced to keep the live stock out. There was a big barn , a chicken house and a number of corrals for winter feeding or whatever was needed. By the time things were unloaded, fires lit, and beds made and supper over, we were tired. We had brought our big, longhaired cat, which at the best of times was very uptight. He nearly tore the screen off the cage that Eddie had made for him. When the doors were all shut for the night, we let him out. He tore around our house until he found our bed – climbed in and went to the foot and was there until next morning. When we put him out he got up on the roof and refused to come down. Of course, I wanted Eddie to rescue him but he did not want to be rescued. By night he was wailing loudly and I finally got him to come in through the bedroom window which was open over our bed. He did drink some milk but retired again to the foot of the bed. This went on for a week, him on the roof finally coming in through the window. I don‟t think he ever liked ranch life. Next morning was time to explore the place. There were thirty-three horses and a hundred head of cattle. One team and a saddle horse were kept in the barn as well as the milk cow. The rest were out on the fields especially where the straw stacks were as there was always spilt grain and food for them. Jim, the brother, brought over a few hens and Jack, the owner decided to bring some of the steers in to fatten for market now that Eddie was there to care for them. He would watch the beef market and if prices went up have a truck come and take a load to market. There 39 was a very quiet old pony that the girls could ride, another saddle horse and Eddie broke one of the range horses to ride; also a big stallion who had been raised on cow‟s milk when his mother died. We gradually learned abut the place and what needed doing. Jim, the brother, was lazy and scared of horses though he worked with them as Eddie used the tractor on the land. Jim would try to hitch up four horses maybe sometimes six to a piece of machinery. Often I would have to go out and hold them while he got them hitched. He ate at our place when he worked at our place so really had a soft time. He rode a saddle horse over in the winter and drove his little coupe in good weather. We used the car several times to go into Calgary, other wise we would use the team with a wagon or sleigh. We gradually became acquainted with folk around. Our nearest neighbors were about a mile away, an older couple with a son in his twenties. He used to come over to play checkers with Eddie. More of that family later. Another family was very good to us. They were Christians and had a family of several boys and girls in their teens. Another family who lived in town and were friends of Jack and his wife were very nice. Spring was on the way so I ordered baby chicks and planted a garden. Eddie started to work on the land and the calves began to arrive. The cows moved up to a higher pasture. The ranch consisted of a flat area around the buildings, of around several hundred acres which was planted in wheat and oats, another pasture acreage of the same amount which rose up behind the buildings to several ranges of hills. If one went to the very top one, several towns could be seen as well as the Rockies to the west. It was a very lovely place and we did enjoy our time there. As Dick was on the way, I wasn‟t as active as I would have liked to be though I rode horseback right up to the time he was born on July 27th. In the late spring friends from Calgary brought their big dog, Cap, for us to have as he had become a problem in town. He would let the milk man bring milk but not take away the bottles and things of that nature. But he was wonderful for us to have and he became Mabs caretaker. After Helen started school, I would see Mabs away across the field with Cap taking care of her. She would ride the old pony around the yard. She would lead her up to the corral fence, then climb up on the rails and into the saddle. Often, she left the reins down and had to climb off and retrieve them. The pony had a colt later on which Jack gave to the girls. It became such a pet that it would follow them into the house. It was hard to leave there later on. Uncle Nellis and Auntie Gee came to visit us on the ranch. It was hard to see Parkinson‟s disease beginning to affect Uncle Nellis. He meant so much to me. Eddie‟s father died about that time and Bill and his friend stopped in to visit us on their way back from the funeral. It was impossible for Eddie to go and leave me there with the children and the chores. I used to help him a great deal, in fact when he broke a rib I had to haul straw, feed calves, water and feed the stallion and other horses. But I loved ranch life. We had some experiences with live stock. Jim left the gate open one night and the horse herd got out and during the ruckus the stallion broke out of his corral and the whole herd took off all over the fields fighting and running. We had to get up, dress and go after them on horseback. Fortunately it was a lovely moonlight night. On Easter Sunday morning it was snowing heavily and as we looked out, the cattle were starting to drift to get away from the storm. We knew if the snow got very heavy and they ran into a corner of the fence, they would pile up and die. Again Eddie hitched up the team and we bundled the children into the big sleigh and I rode horseback to stop them. There were some newborn calves among the herd. Eddie would try to catch one and put it in the sleigh. After catching a few calves and my getting ahead of the herd, we were able to bring them into the corrals and settle them down with feed there. 40 Threshing time was exciting. Jack had a big outfit for he threshed for other ranchers. There was a cook car with a cook to prepare meals for the men. Eddie would milk the cow and be gone early in the morning. One thing I never did was milk a cow. made up my mind after I had seen farm women having to do the milking that it wasn‟t for me. I was not afraid of cows even one from off the range. I would get her into the barn, feed her and wait for Eddie to do the rest. Mother Sharples never had to milk. Her sons did not want her to have to do this chore. When Eddie came in for the day I would saddle a horse and ride up to the very high pasture to make sure the cattle were okay. We did lose a couple of small calves to accidents or predators. Branding time was also a busy time. I hated to see the cattle suffer – but it was the only way to prove an animal was yours. I remember reading about a woman from the east who bought a ranch and was so horrified at learning cattle were to be branded that she said, “no way, we will tie red ribbons on their horns”. We had company come out from Calgary, especially Jack and Ev Forester. Their son was born the first week of July and Dick on the 27th of July. A neighbor girl from the Christian family came to help me. This family was so very good to us and prayed much for us I‟m sure and later, God answered their prayers. Mother came too but I know she did not enjoy life on the ranch. She was afraid of the animals and being so far away from folk with no phone or contacts unless one rode for help. Dick was born in the Holy Cross hospital in Calgary so Eddie was only able to visit me a couple of times as he did not want to leave mother alone. But I had plenty of friends in the city so wasn‟t lonely. That fall the Saskatoon berries were so big and thick on the bushes in the pasture, I even brought a couple of quarts to Kelowna with us as Saskatoon berries were to the prairie folk what peaches and cherries, etc were to Okanagan folk. Also friends from Calgary used to come out to pick them. We burned wood so spare time in the summer, Eddie would chop down trees and in the fall the men with sawing machines would come to cut it into lengths. One always cut down trees in the summer for the next years supply as it had to dry out to burn well. I remember Helen and Mabel helping me carry the day‟s supply into the back porch. Helen started school in the fall. She had to ride Betty and the first morning I went with her. It was about a two mile ride. School was not particularly to her liking so she would get off and play on the way until the teacher informed us she was always late. Also, on the way home, she might do the same thing until I spanked her a few times. When I think of today and how our children have to be protected from those who would harm them, I can hardly believe the freedom we had in those days. I churned milk and my butter was good as I had learned from mother years before if one did not spend time “working” the buttermilk out, the butter would become rancid so with a wooden bowl and a paddle and lots of changes of cold water, the butter was free from buttermilk. The men loved a cold drink of buttermilk in the hot weather so we used to hang it in a bucket down the well where it was cool. Bread making wasn‟t quite that successful. I started to try baking when the weather was cool when we moved to the farm. I put potato water on the yeast cake not the kind of yeast we have today and wrapped it up with coverings. In the morning it didn‟t look too lively but I went ahead to make it into dough. It didn‟t rise too well but I thought it would in the hot oven. It didn‟t. In fact, it was too hard to eat so I threw the loaves out to the chickens. Eddie said they walked round and round them but had too much sense than to risk breaking their beaks on those things. Later, on Maui, with butter yeast and a warm climate I bake lots of bread. When the snow was quite deep, it was time to break the horses to harness and pulling things. Jim tried to help Eddie, but was more trouble than help so I would do the helping. Eddie would harness a very quiet horse. Then get the harness on the wild one after quite a struggle and hitch them to the big sleigh. I would jump in and Eddie would start them off. The old horse would go ahead almost dragging the other out on the field in the deep snow where they would start to run. After a few miles the wild one was very tired and not fighting so Eddie would 41 unhitch them and feed them. He was never hard on the horses, always took good care of them. After a few trips, the wild ones would settle down and when spring came could be hitched with others to the implements being used. Life was exciting for me. Christmas on the ranch was one I‟ll never forget. There was a lovely spring that watered the stock as it was pumped into a big trough under a covered area. In the winter there was a heater that burned coal connected to the trough to keep the water free from ice. A little engine did the pumping. On the 24th the engine stopped running so the water started to freeze. Eddie had to go to town, Midnapore, for parts. So he hitched up the team and the children and I went with him over to get Jim‟s car for the trip as the highway was now open. He expected to be several hours so I drove the team home, unharnessing them in the barn and after feeding them, took the children into the house. I had a big cardboard box for six month old Dick. No matter how cold it was I would bundle him up and cover him well and he was always snug in there. On the sleigh floor Eddie had put lots of straw so the girls were warm with good blankets. Eddie had brought in a Christmas tree so we were busy decorating it and I was doing some baking. We had made a trip into Calgary earlier for gifts and toys and Mother, John and Helen had sent a big parcel. We had sent them turkey, chickens and butter from the farm. As time wore on Eddie didn‟t return and I began to wonder. The calves in the corrals were bawling for food so I fed them and the cattle who came up for grain. Still no Eddie and it was getting dark. It began to snow big soft flakes for the weather was mild. We had supper and finally I put the children to bed. I had no way of contacting anyone without going with horses. But I did not want to try to hitch up the team and get the children up at night. I cleaned the house thoroughly, put lamps in the window to guide Eddy and Cap and I sat and waiting. I remember getting out my little, old Bible and reading the Bible story that I‟m sorry to say I did not always do. Finally about twelve o‟clock I saw car lights. Eddie could not get the parts in Midnapore so had gone to Calgary. The next days we had Christmas but were both tired out. In the evening, the neighbor boy came over with some cookies and played checkers with Eddie. I think the neighbor won most of the games. Spring was coming and reports from Kelowna that my stepfather was having a great deal of pain in his leg added to the realization that we were surely not making much on the ranch, we decided to go to Kelowna to be near the folk. So we told the owner we were leaving. I know he was sad to see us go as he had never had as good a man as Eddy who could handle the tractor and horses and was very thorough in looking after things. We put our big cat and the barn cats to sleep and gave Cap to the neighbors and packed up to leave. The neighbors were so good to help. We stayed with them the last night. Cap knew there was something going on. He was my dog and if Eddie and the children went for a ride, he always stayed with me. That night he crept into the house and got under the bed. Pets can become so faithful and caring. I have come to the conclusion it is better to put them down so they will never be mistreated than to give them away We spent a few days in Calgary with the Foresters saying goodbye to Ruttles and other friends. I hated to leave Calgary for I always loved that city, the only one I ever did. We left about eleven o‟clock at night. On trains then, one could put two seats down and make a bed so the family and I laid down to sleep. I remember waking and seeing Eddie across the aisle watching us and fell back to sleep feeling so safe. KELOWNA, here we come! 1938 As we wakened in the morning, we were well into the mountains long passed Banff and territory we had known from pack horse trips and now into great towering peaks. The girls were able to walk up and down the isles as they were not interested in scenery. Our friends had packed food 42 for us and we were able to get milk and coffee from the kitchen. It was a long ride and we finally left the mountains behind and came into the Valley of the South Thompson. We knew we had to change trains at a place called Sicamous. From there we would take a small train for the eighty mile ride to Kelowna. We had been given the time of that train‟s departure and were sitting on a bench when Eddie said “I think that must be our train sitting over on that track”. He got up and went to make inquiries and came back saying “That‟s our train and it‟s leaving in a few minutes‟. Had he not done this we would have been stranded in Sicamous until the next day. The weather was very warm and for some reason the water supply had run out on this little train. The children were hot and thirsty and dirty. I tried to get their faces clean and clothes looking not too bad. The train stopped at every village along the way and it was well into the afternoon when we arrived in Kelowna. My stepfather and mother were there to meet us and soon we were home having plenty to eat and drink. This was the nineteenth of March, my 33rd birthday. The weather was almost hot – spring flowers were in bloom. I‟ve never seen quite as early a spring as that year. And so Kelowna made a good impression on us. My folk‟s home was a two bedroom with a big screened in veranda. We were just across the road from the lakeshore on Abbott street – the area where there were beautiful homes and friendly people. There were four houses in a row called the Campbell cottages as Mr. Campbell who lived next door owned them. I said we were just across from the lake. I should have said across from homes whose yards in the back lead to the lake. We all slept well that first night and were ready for sightseeing next day. The girls soon found out those children lived in a house just across from us so were very happy to play with these and other children on the lakeshore. The shore was covered with fine sand and where one could go out almost out of sight and still not be in deep water. Because my folk had been in Kelowna for two years attending church and making friends, it was easy to us to make friends. That first summer was one of picnics living on the beach and enjoying the Okanagan. Helen started school and though she was way behind by the end of June, was caught up and passed into grade 2. The thing that was hardest at first was for Eddie to get a job and as the depression was not over, that was not easy. He was willing to take anything that came along and after a couple of months; something “did come along”. Our neighbor, Mr. Shand was mill-wright at the Lloyd-Jones saw mill , a small one just off Bernard. After he met Eddie and visited with him, he promised the first time there was a vacancy; he would give it to Eddie. One afternoon he came and said “come right away, I‟ve fired my “setter” for being drunk”. So Eddie had a good job for several years until his arm began to give him trouble as he had to use it riding the carriage to set the saws for cutting the logs. More about that later on. We still could not find a place to rent. In May my sister Helen and her little Joy who was a few months older that Dick came to visit. Then Uncle Jomp came bringing his mother, Grandma Nunn. She planned to stay a couple of months and was enjoying the fruit and lovely weather until she had a slight stroke and was in bed for a few days. Dr Knox, the main doctor in Kelowna was called in and as Grandma and mother visited with him, they found he came from Ontario a few miles from where each of them lived and while they did not know each other back than, they all knew so many of the same people so there were many hours of visiting. Doctors made house calls and were very relaxed at that time. Grandma rallied but then had a severe stroke and was in bed but wanted me to do things for her. We had a nurse during the day and at night I was on call. I have the ability to get up in the night to care for the children and go right back to sleep and was able to do that for grandma. As time went on we realized that she would never be better so Uncle Jomp who was a doctor decided to take her back to his place and have her looked after there. But a couple of days after he came for her, she died in her sleep and we were so thankful that she would not have to spend maybe years in the condition she was in. 43 Finally we decided to try and buy a house so did much house hunting. In the meantime something happened that turned our lives completely around. Of course we only had the radio in those days and Mr. Brown who owned this business in Kelowna was such a fine man. Much of the programs were local and I use to enjoy listening to them. One day there was a new program with a Dr Lowrey, a Bible teacher speaking. As I listened I became more and more interested and would tell Eddie about it. On Sunday nights Dr Lowery came on after church services were over and Eddie listened too. One night his message was on “Hell and Who is Going There”. As we listened I became very convicted and went into the bedroom and knelt by the bed and cried and cried. Eddie came in to comfort me and after a while as I had asked the Lord to forgive my sins, I was crying for joy. Then as Eddie and I talked we both knew that the Christian life was for us. What a blessing that we both made it a personal matter and so became Christians together. Dr Lowery used so much scripture and because God‟s word is so powerful we soon began to grow in Bible knowledge. We visited Dr Lowery to tell him what had happened and he taught us that we must not trust our own feelings but stand on what God‟s word says. New converts sometimes become discouraged for old habits are still there so one must take what God says and believe it and forget feelings at these times. I remember how happy I was and couldn‟t correct the girls (I wish I could remember this - Helen) who soon learned they could get away with things until I realized that was not what God wanted so soon got them back to knowing they must obey. Another wonderful thing was that Mother believed that same night. She had always taught me that whatever the Bible said was true having been raised in the Methodist church but had never made a personal commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. So our lives were greatly changed as we became “new creatures in Christ”. We had been attending the United Church but soon started going to a Baptist church where the Bible was taught in length. Now we really started house hunting. That was April 1939. Kelowna 1938 I think it may be interesting to describe the town as we first saw it. Coming from Calgary was quite a change. My stepfather drove us around to see the lights at night down town. They were few and feeble after Calgary but as the folk had not lived in a big city for years, they thought they were great. The main street was Bernard with businesses on both sides for four blocks. The city fathers had decided this was as far as they were to go. Some man defied them and built his repair business further along and he was forced to tear it down. The ferry landing was just south of Bernard and beyond was the Lloyd Jones sawmill and beyond that the railway tracks and docks to load and unload freight cars unto barges that took them down to Penticton. The station was there in the same place it is today. There were several packing houses to which growers delivered their fruit for sorting, packing and sending on to other places. The city park was there and such a lovely place for meetings and picnics. The far end near the bridge had a big screened-in building where one could cook and eat. The mosquitoes were very bad so we spent many evenings in this enclosure and then going for a swim where the pests didn‟t bother us. There were orchards and gardens and homes scattered around. Abbott Street was the main residential street though north of Bernard many smaller homes were situated. The hospital was a small cottage type; the new one was in the planning. There was a hotel on the corner of Bernard and Abbott. Also around the corner on Bernard was a shoe repair shop with a stuffed bear out in front which became more “moth eaten” and ragged looking as time went on. There were no numbers on the homes and the post office was at the far end of Bernard on the north side. Each family had a mailbox and so someone had to pick up the mail. There were no sewers; each place had a “cess pool” if they had indoor plumbing. There weren‟t many cars, quite a few bicycles and even horse drawn drays and farmers driving into town. There were few sidewalks except the center of town. Other walks had gravel on them. 44 There was quite a large “China town” from Abbott for several blocks east between Bernard and I think Ellis. Many of the Chinese came to work on the railway or orchards and immigration laws didn‟t allow them to bring their wives and children at that time. The natives from across the lake used to come over on Saturday evening, and many would get drunk. As they caught the last ferry back there was always those with a grudge against someone waiting to waylay them so many were the wounds to be seen next morning when the police tried to find out who was at fault. But Kelowna was a lovely place to live. Well, as I was saying we went house hunting and came up with what seemed to be very reasonable. A two bedroom on a long narrow lot near the Catholic Church. We “bought” it with really no down payment but so much a month. It was not at all up to date as there was no indoor plumbing except water. We moved in about May I think. We were attending Bethel Baptist church and had made friends there and were entertained and did some entertaining ourselves. As time went on, we realized our property had some problems. The owner was in the West Indies and the title was tied up and the agent didn‟t seem to have much knowledge of things. Then one day, Mrs Sloan had asked me to come for “tea” with some other ladies. As we were to leave, she asked me to stay as she had something to ask me. She said they wanted to go live across the lake as her husband who was a carpenter was going to build a house for their daughter and would we consider renting their house. It was an old, well built house on an acre of land, three bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, pantry and a big screened-in verandah for $25 a month. The house was fully plumbed. So when I told Eddie, he was very much in favor. So he told the agent for the other house that we did not want it and as we had signed no papers the deal was off and we moved to 1004Harvey Avenue which became our home for many years. With our new found faith in Christ came new friends. We had joined the United church a week before hearing the evangelist. When we had gone to visit him, he said he had given our names to the pastor of the Baptist church (something he rarely did) because Pastor Bennett had been praying during his message. We soon realized in the liberal church we were not hearing the true message from God‟s word and started to attend the Bethel Church. Sunday school, church and prayer meeting were important. Eddie and I were baptized in the lake down in front of the Reid‟s home. There we made friends who are still friends dear to us. Ross and Elvya Gray had been instrumental in bringing Dr Lowery to Kelowna having heard him while on a trip to the prairies and they became a blessing in our lives. They had two sons, Leighton and Claire who were several years older that our girls. Ross was a chiropractor who had three years training in Chicago planning to be a surgeon before realizing how much help the chiropractic treatments could help certain ailments and had transferred his training to chiropractic treatment. Our neighbors were the Suttons - a son, Jack Mabel‟s age and two daughters, Peggy and Doreen ,Helen‟s age; the Bennetts whose family were all grown up except Betty; Postals, an elderly couple; Hendersons with children John‟s age; Crawfords with two boys, one Dick‟s age; the Williams who adopted a little girl and others who came and went. How we enjoyed the big house – yard – lawn – garden – fruit trees – chicken house where I would raise a hundred baby chicks each year, among them, about a dozen pullet we raised for eggs. The irrigation ditch ran along in front of the property and we would ask for water to be turned on to water our garden. The first time we did it was a real learning experience. One had to make ditches along each row of vegetables and around each tree. Eddie and I were exhausted by night. I still remember dreaming about it. This went on for a number of years until a water system was installed. We even caught a fish or two in the irrigation ditch. We soon settled in and became part of the neighborhood. Helen was off to school about four blocks west. Mabel was five and Dick was a year and a half. Eddie rode his bike to work and 45 came home at noon. All down through the years everyone came home at noon so we had our big meal then. I did a great deal of knitting and sewing for the children and myself. This I continued to do for many years going from our family when they grew up and married to the grandchildren. It was a complete change as I hated to even sew on a button in my teens and early twenties. I canned fruit and vegetables by the hundreds of quarts, made tomato and grape juice, jams and pickles. I became a real home maker which was such a change for me. I know the Lord taught me that my family was very important to me. Those were the days of real neighborliness. We women would go for a cup of coffee and chat or someone would come to our house in the morning. We would invite friends for “supper” or be invited out. I would put a roast in the oven Sunday morning and get it well on the way of being cooked and then turn down the fire while we were away. And it would be done by the time we got home usually bringing some one with us. We burned sawdust to cook and heat with. The heater and cook stove had hoppers that would be filled with sawdust which fed slowly into the fire and which gave heat for both warming the house and cooking the meals. The water heater was also hookd up to the stove so we had hot water. Life was good. Behind us lived the Thornbers. He had been a pastor and had such a good knowledge of God‟s word, even able to read the gospels written in the Greek language. What a help he was explaining certain passages that we were not certain of the meaning. Mrs. Thronber taught Sunday School and was much loved by those who had sat under her teaching. They also had a lovely big cherry tree and we could buy cherries for ten cents a pound. At this time the war was heating up. Starting in 1939, it was a stand off between Germany and France. France had a line of defense called the Marginot line of forts and equipment and said nothing could penetrate it. Hitler was becoming more and more vocal and lining his army to attack. Instead of trying to penetrate this line of defense, German troops went around it and were able to invade France. Eddie‟s brother Bill was there as a gunner with the Canadian troops. We were put on rations of gas, butter, sugar, soap, and other things not being manufactured due to war armaments taking over. By this time our family had increased by the birth of John September 1940 and thus we did not go without much as a family the size of ours received enough rations War news was not good. Kelowna was forced to have blackout covers on windows, usually black tar paper which was on the outside of the windows and rolled up by day. It was not that Kelowna was a target of enemy attacks but that we were on the “beam” that could lead enemy planes to attack the smelters in Trail where ammunition was being made instead of the usual materials. By this time, Eddie had to leave the sawmill as his right arm was causing him much trouble from having to work levers in setting saws for cutting logs. Mr. Murdin, Elvya Gray‟s father, was the Raleigh man of the district. He contacted Eddie and asked if he would take over the business. But we didn‟t have the money to buy out the supplies or pay the license so Mr. Murdin said he would continue to be Raleigh man and Eddie could work for him. So Eddie made a trailer for his bike and traveled all over the area including Westbank to Winfield. He enjoyed this job more than any other he had had as his time was his own. He could be a witness for the lord and yet make a living for his family. As the war was on, many spices, medicines, etc were scarce but the Raleigh Company seemed to have a good supply. Not only did the trailer carry those things but sometimes the family down to the park for picnics or to the store for groceries. About this time a real miracle happened in our lives. Mr. Sloan came over to ask us to buy the place. But we had no money and though Eddie owned some of the farmland, he had told Allan he would not want anything until the place was cleared of the mortgage. Mr. Sloan said if Eddie would buy the house, we could continue to pay just $25 a month and the taxes. The price was 46 $2400. It was a gift house from God and we always felt that way. It became God‟s house to be used for His purpose. I realize that our family did not feel this way but they were only children and didn‟t realize we entertained “angels unaware”. I haven‟t any idea of how many folk stayed with us. I just remember counting one year when 100 people stayed from one night to one month in that year. But Eddie and I were people persons. We became very active in the Bethel Baptist church teaching Sunday school, attending meetings and Eddie becoming a member of the church board. We had one of the finest Sunday School Superintendents that I‟ve ever worked with. Some one gave him a book on Sunday Schools written by a member of Scripture Press publisher of supplies in Chicago. Mr. Walrod took his holidays and made the trip to find out more on the subject. The result was that the writer promised to come to Kelowna for two weeks and help us start a vacation Bible school. And teach us child psychology and training in teaching. The Pentecostal church pastor was such a fine man and wanted to join us so we had an attendance of 200 children using both church facilities. I was in charge of the primaries at the Pentecostal church that had more room as the beginner and primary classes were the largest. That was the start of the vacation Bible school that went on for years. By this time, David had joined our family making it two girls and three boys. The REAL perfect family!!!!