When I was a kid and completely obsessed with horses and fully awkward around people (things haven’t changed much), I used to be so envious that mom, my aunt, and uncle got to ride to school. It didn’t really occur to me that they were riding in -20C or how difficult and scary it would have been to cross the creek in flood. No wonder Grandma was so terrified of the creek. Still though….
It wasn’t long before we were issued a ration book for each one of us. Transient help would come to work with all the tabs sold out of their books and we would just have to cope with it somehow, but they weren’t very popular.
In February 1940 I left Sheila and Marshall with my sister and Percy and I took Aunt Ada and her bachelor brother Ray Wills on a motor trip to visit Aunt Lil in Palemeno, California. We thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the wonderful Redwood Forest, and visiting the old fort where the Russians had landed in 1812, the fort still standing in good condition because Redwood won’t burn or nor decay.
Before I left I taught Clarence how to make apple pie. When we got home the man who helped him batch said they just made steak out of the whole half beef and had apple pie nearly every meal. And his pies were just about the best I’ve ever tasted, much better than mine, but I doubt if he has ever cooked one since, they were certainly glad to quit cooking.
By now we had a delco in the house – no more coal oil lamps and those frightening Coleman gas lamps. at first we had a gas engine to charge the sixteen two-volt batteries. Then we got a wind charger, which worked fine when the wind blew. We were so glad to have just the lights, we never thought of complaining because there were no electric gadgets to be got on the 32 volts.
Margaret, my last child, was born in October 1940. We let Sheila name her, she was so thrilled to have a baby sister, so she said “I like Margaret Bateman, let’s call her Margaret”. She was a dear little baby, had long dark hair when she was born and always very lively. I lay in the hospital listening to the Battle of Britain on the radio and wondering if I was right to bring a child into such a world. The way they were bombing London that week, I felt we didn’t have a chance. We used to entertain a few Airforce boys who were stationed in Calgary training. They were a long way from home and sure appreciated a few home cooked meals. The training planes became quite a problem flying over our house, just about touching the top of our trees. They would wake up baby Margi and she’d howl in terror. It made me realize how terrifying it must have been for the people in Britain who had the real thing zooming above them.
Sheila started school in 1941 to Clemon’s Hill School. It was a long, difficult, and lonely ride for a small child. We were fortunate to find an older girl who didn’t live near a school and came and lived with us and rode to school with Sheila. Sheila rode my horse Spades. I’ll always remember one spring morning when the Jumping Pound was in flood. It was a raging torrent so Percy rode across and led Dora’s horse with her on it then came back for Sheila. They were getting along fairly well until a tree came rushing down in the current and frightened Spades. He pulled loose from Percy and headed back for home. Old Robert and I were standing on the bank ready to catch Spades, but he missed the crossing and just plunged up and down in the swift, deep water. Sheila clung to his back like a little spider. The poor horse tried his best to get out but the banks was too steep there. However, he stretched his head out and Robert was able to grab his bridle and pull him upstream to the crossing. Sheila was soaked so I let Dora go to school alone that day. I was so thrilled to have child in school and see her take part in her first Christmas concert, Marge Van Der Velde was the teacher, and just a lovely teacher.