Sunday, February 11, 2018

MOM AND DAD SETTLING IN

     Mom had never been out to Dad's farm. Dad had probably given her a fairly realistic description of the house conditions. Mom had rarely traveled out of her town Portage la Prairie Manitoba. The 500 mile train trip back to the farm was a major trip. Arrangements had been made for someone to meet the train and pick them up and take them to the farm.

      Dad on his farm

    Mom arrived with a few linens like sheets, blankets, towels and tea towels. She also had a set of cutlery that may have been silver. There was an old trunk in the house and it was probably used to bring all her worldly goods to the farm.

     The house was not insulated and the wood had dried out so there was a crack or two in the walls. The house was banked up with straw to gain some warmth. There was no electricity. Light was by something called a coal oil lamp. A flame burned from a wick so there wasn't much light. They got used to working with such low light levels. There was no water! In the winter there was a large barrel beside the stove and they kept that full of snow. The snow slowly melted . When water was needed for washing you dipped out as much as you wanted. There was no washing machine. Clothes were washed by hand and hung on a clothes line outside. Now in winter the clothes froze rapidly. A few days later the clothes were brought in the house and hung on racks to complete drying.

     Later on an old hand rocked washing machine was purchased but there wasn't any room in the house for it so it was only brought in on wash days. Later Dad set up an outdoor washing machine that could only be used in the summer. This machine was powered by a primitive one cylinder engine.

     Now the town where Mom lived had some amenities. They had electricity and water. The places where she worked had some conveniences like clothes washers. 

     
      Mom's family about 1930. Mom is in the middle.

     Mom had been on farms as her grandparents farmed and she spent part of the summer with her grandparents.

     But to come out to Dad's place would have been a shock...culture shock. Dad had grown a garden the summer before and left his produce with a neighbor who kept them and so they didn't freeze . So he probably had a couple of bags of potatoes and vegetables.

    Mom did have a cousin in the district who lived about 2 Km away. There were other people in the district who she had met.

    Dad loved farm auction sales. Stuff that sold was usually old and in poor condition. That's how Dad got some farm machinery. He loved to buy "junk" boxes for 5 or 10 cents. You didn't really know what was in the box but there were usually things that could be used such as tools. Farming at that time was done by horse power so guess what? Dad got his horses on auction sales. They were usually very poor quality horses. I remember old Teddy who was a very dumb horse. 

    One time Dad bought a horse and then traded it before he went home for a very ancient Model T truck that had a cloth cab. It was the first vehicle he ever bought. The truck was used very little as they didn't have money for gas in the 30' and during the war there wasn't much gas for sale. Besides that the old truck wasn't very reliable.

    Dad also bought a cow or two on auction sales. He ended up naming the cows after the people he bought them from . There was a cow named old Oscar.

    However, they survived the winter of 1938. 

33 comments:

  1. It's hard to imagine living that way now that we have so much.

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    1. It's a much different life for us and our kids will experience the same amount of change.

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  2. Thank you for sharing these very special stories of your family history! You described everything so well that I could see the small farmhouse and almost feel the cold. I can imagine what a shock it was to your Mom to have such a sudden change in her environment. But I'm sure she was young and in love and saw it all as an adventure and challenge. You are writing a wonderful history for your family Red!

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    1. Thanks. I was able to listen to their stories and remember them.

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  3. Your mom must have been a very determined lady.

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    1. My Mom was a plodder and a putterer.

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  4. Gosh! I do take a lot of things for granted. It's really amazing to hear what people had to deal with back in the "olden days." I'm sure your mom really, really loved your dad to stick it out in difficult conditions.

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    1. In some ways there weren't other options.

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  5. Your mom didn't look too happy in that family photograph. Perhaps she had a premonition of the hardships to come!

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    1. they were a very serious English family. It was the style of photos at that time.

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  6. What a great story about how your parents lived way back when. :-)

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    1. Times were tough on the Canadian prairies. They were able to survive on the farm as they were able to produce most of their food. they bought very little from the store.

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  7. Nice stories of old family times, interesting to read.

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    1. Thanks. I'm surprised at the interest. I'm sure some of the things don't make a lot of sense for someone from another country.

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  8. Although not really a lover of 'school' history I do enjoy biographies of social history. I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

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    1. They endured the harsh conditions in many different ways.

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  9. That sounds like the farm my husband grew up on. No running water or electricity! It was a big brick house, though!

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    1. He would understand what I'm really talking about.

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  10. Major changes to get started, a tough life. Great story to read

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  11. That would have been culture shock!

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    1. It certainly changed her life forever.

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  12. Those were hard times. Most of the time we don't even realize how much better we have it now. Today we just touch a thermostat and get instant warmth. I love the old photographs - the hairstyles, the clothing, the thought of a moment frozen in time and what happened after the photographer's "click."

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    1. ...and sometimes we have the nerve to complain.

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  13. A wonderful story Red, I really enjoyed reading it. Life back then was challenging but people like your parents always found a way to persevere.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. The skill set was different at that time.

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  14. Can't imagine trying to keep warm in an uninsulated house in Manitoba. I'm wondering how your parents met since she lived 500 miles away.

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    1. My Dad spent the winters working in Portage la Prairie and they met at church.

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  15. I can remember the freshly washed clothes freezing when they were hung in the winter (in North Dakota in the 40's) but we eventually got a dryer. We did have electricity and running water though.

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    1. Some people had wind chargers and a 32 volt system. Power off a grid came in the early 50's

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  16. Life was so different back then. The people worked really hard.

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  17. Very interesting reading about their early years. I can only imagine what your mother thought but she must have loved your father very much and had an adventerous spirit:)

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  18. thank you for sharing glimpse of that fascinating past when life was harder though yet lovelier than now due to closeness in relationships and natural lifestyle

    i enlarged the photo of your dear mom
    you had very beautiful parents who worked hard and survived together

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