I’m in fall cleaning mode; trying to get rid of some of our excess stuff, and my efforts have uncovered some rather interesting stories from the past.
Take this clock for instance, that’s been stored away since before we did our kitchen reno.
The story of this clock goes back to when I was a little girl. On very rare occasions, my father would take me for an ice-cream sundae at the local IGA store, which had a sit-at-the-counter restaurant that served light lunches and the like. On the wall in the restaurant was a clock like this one, and as a kid I never tired of watching the eyes and the tail move back and forth as the seconds ticked by.
The first time I went to Joe’s parents’ house, I was astonished to find the same kind of clock. I got very excited and told Joe’s mom my story. Several years later, she very kindly gave me her clock. Sadly, this one no longer works properly, but I’m going to see if it’s worth getting it fixed. Even though the eyes and tail move in jerky movements if at all, that clock still makes me smile every time I look at it.
The other thing I unearthed today was a four page letter from my mom that gave a history of the little red school house in the small rural community I grew up in. Both my grandmother and father attended that one-room school as students, and some years later my mother taught there. Mom cobbled together as much information about the school as she could, based on her own recollections and stories from various sources in the community. Here is an excerpt:
The teacher was supposed to build character, teach religiously the three Rs and keep order. Each morning the Flag Salute was to be given, O Canada was to be sung and the Lord’s Prayer repeated. Often a bible story was read by the teacher or an older pupil. The body as well as the mind must be exercised so ‘Physical Drill’ was given. Poetry was memorized. This was supposed to be good for the brain and also to lengthen the memory. Besides History and Geography, Nature Study was taught. In the fall and spring, there was the outing to gather flowers, learn their names and also to gather leaves and see some small animals.
Mom also talked in this letter about the pie sales that were held to raise money for books and school supplies. She recalled:
Pies were brought and auctioned off to the highest bidder. The girls salvaged pieces of ribbon, coloured paper and tinsel which was used to decorate the container for their pie. It was suppoed to be a closely guarded secret as to who made which pie but somehow when the bidding took place, each boy always managed to get that special girl’s pie. It was eaten there and sometimes a dance would follow.
Here’s what she wrote about my grandmother Glennie, who would have attended that school for several years in the late 1880s and the 1890s:
Each day there would be time to play outside. The boys liked to play ball, race, play tag and they got very sure footed by running along a pole fence which separated the school property from that of the neighbours. Most of the girls chose quieter, more lady like games, but there were two girls – Glennie and Trifosa — who decided this was too tame for them and they learned to run across the fence with as much agility as any of the boys. Long dresses were rather a deterrent but that didn’t stop Glennie. She simply pulled up her skirts and raced along. The other girls were very embarrassed and whispered, “She is showing her legs”, but Glennie just tossed her head and went on.
There’s also a story about my father Donald. She writes:
Two young boys Donald and Pat were kept apart most of the time because they usually caused a commotion. However one day they were sitting together at the back of the room copying some lessons. The teacher was busy at the front of the room putting a lesson on the board. Her back was to the pupils so Donald thought he would put on a show for his classmates. He sat up on the back of his seat with his hands and arms outstretched; then just as he thought the teacher was ready to turn around he would sit back down in his seat and write like mad. This happened several times when at last Pat reached over and gave Don a little push. There was a loud crash and all that could be seen was Donald’s feet sticking up in the air. Needless to say, those two boys didn’t get the chance to sit together again.
There’s lots more, including the story of one student who went on to raise horses (one fine pair of which was sent with the calvary to the Boer War) but you probably don’t find this nearly as interesting as I do so I’ll stop there. Gary and Roy, I’ll send you copies of the letter; the original should be kept in the family trunk.