Swimming

~~ by Nadine Faye House

When we moved into Neepawa it was to the corner of Brown Ave. and Ellen St. which was only a block from the court house/town hall on Hamilton Street.

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The fountain is barely visible at the far left of the picture.

Gail and I used to go paddling in the fountain located there. Our signal to return home was the noon whistle that sounded to let all the work places know that it was dinner time (yes dinner not lunch).

One day while all the people were headed home for dinner, I decided that I did not want to walk home in my wet bathing suit so promptly took it off and headed home naked. I’m not sure but think this happened when I was about three.

Neepawa

Neepawa is the first home of which I have actual personal memories, not just passed on stories—though the memories are fragmented and hazy.  I do remember the big yellow quarantine sign on the front door when Nadine and I came down with measles.

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Something like this but for measles.

I remember my father bringing a huge block of ice, grasped in gigantic tongs, to put in the icebox in the kitchen.

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The exterior of our icebox was similar to A,
but had a larger compartment, not just a drawer, for the ice.

I remember our swing on the tree in the front yard.

These snapshots were taken in July 1947 on or near Nadine’s 3rd birthday.
I had turned 5 in April.

I remember my first Hallowe’en party.
And my first piano recital.

But there are still stories as well.  I will let Nadine tell the first, as it involves her.

A brief stay in Winnipeg

In Winnipeg we made our home at 72 Hindley Avenue in the St. Vital area.

Hindley ave

We stayed only a few months, leaving again not long after my fourth birthday in April 1946.

family at Hindley ave

I love this picture because it is one of the few that includes my father along with the rest of us.  It was taken on the steps of 72 Hindley Avenue.

And here I am on my fourth birthday.

fourth birthday

And again, with Mum and Nadine.

Winnipeg, Spring 1946

Our next home was in Neepawa, Manitoba.

Leaving the Farm

It was late fall 1945 that we left my first home.  I have conflicting stories as to why.  According to Uncle Cecil, he offered to sell the farm to my father.  Dad was keen, but, says Uncle Cecil “Gladys was not.”  I didn’t hear this version until Uncle Arthur published Pancake Ranch, a collection of writings by himself and his siblings.

Nadine & Cecil, Sept. 1945

Nadine with Uncle Cecil, September 1945

What I heard from my mother is that Uncle Cecil misread a comment of hers.  The Brunskill farm was the most distant stop from the school on the school bus route.  I would be the first child on in the morning and the last off in the evening.  She was concerned it would be a long day for me.  But, as she recalls, she did not intend this concern to stand in the way of acquiring ownership of the farm.

Myself with Mum & Dad

Myself with Mum & Dad

There is no way of knowing now just why things fell out as they did.  Mum had been born on a farm, raised on a farm, knew farm life well.  Dad had lived on a farm since he was twelve.  Except for the excursion to Hamilton in 1941 (see Almost an Ontarian) they had known no other life.  So it was a big decision to leave. Our immediate destination was Winnipeg. And although we soon left the big city, we never returned to a farm.

Dad bringing in wood for the stove

Dad bringing in wood for the stove

First Christmas

My first Christmas without Sean and my first ever Christmas entirely alone.  Yet not alone.  None of us were up to organizing a gathering this year.  But Sara, Sean’s sister, called me this morning, in tears.  It is so, so hard on her as, ever since I sold my home in Burlington, she has hosted the family.  When I called John, Sean’s father, he was alone reading and had no plans for the rest of the day either.

Elsewhere, life goes on.  My brother Lyle and his wife, Heather, have his son, daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and grandson Callum all together.  And on Christmas Eve, my sister, Nadine, became a great-grandmother for a second time, as another of her granddaughters presented her with a great-grandson.  Happy birthday, Quinton James. So I shared all these good times via phone.

And, as usual, I shared the joy of midnight mass.  A poignant moment came when I was leading the prayers of the people.  One of the intercessions was “for those whom this Christmas brings memories of loss, disappointment and sadness”.  And I thought of Sean.

A quiet Christmas suits thoughts of Sean.  He was not boisterous.  Much of the time, he sat quietly in the corner, taking in the scene.  Then, suddenly, he would throw out a question or comment filled with wry humour, gently probing the ironies of life. His eyes would light up and he would smile.  And we felt blessed.  Indeed, as many told me after the memorial service, he was the kind of person who just by being who he was, made you want to be a better person yourself.  That, I think, is a gift that will stay with us all.

This is the first I have posted in quite a while.  Shortly after the last post, I took a tumble and broke a bone in my wrist.  Of course it was my right hand, my writing hand.  So I was in a cast for six weeks, and have been in physiotherapy ever since building up strength and flexibility enough to use a mouse and keyboard.  I hope to get back quickly into the routine of one post a week.

Food Fun

~~by Nadine Faye House

When I returned home from the hospital, my parents decided to allow me to eat whatever I wanted. My mother soon learned to keep the butter out of my reach as I would eat it by the spoonful. I have never lost my love of butter but I don’t eat spoonfuls anymore.

Ice cream was another favourite. Uncle Cecil, back in Canada after the ceasefire in Europe, was living on the farm with us in late 1945. I can remember Mum saying, he would buy one pint of ice cream for everyone else to share and one pint for just him and me.  Uncle Cecil was a great tease, and on one occasion, knowing that I disliked bananas, he slipped a tiny bit of banana into my ice cream. When I came to that spoonful I took my time savouring the ice cream then calmly and forcefully spat out the banana, right across the table into the face of the hired man.

When I was a little bit older and we would visit my Grandma Wood’s, she would often make rice pudding with raisins in it. My cousin Rosanne and I would share our puddings, I would give her all of my rice and she would give me all of her raisins. Even though she got more to eat, we would both leave the table happy and with cleaned dishes.