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Gee I’m mad! I’m boiling! (FGK 82)

Auntie Sheila’s letters are some of my favourite – she is so open and honest in them. I really appreciate how vulnerable and real she is when she writes. Because of that I’ve chosen not to post some of them, they are clearly private conversations happening between sisters but it has given me a lot of insight into who she was and what a really loving and remarkable lady she was.

Based on this letter I’m also understanding how it is that she received that award that Grandma spoke of in her autobiography. You can tell she takes her schooling seriously, it seems all she does is study – well and perhaps buy shoes. I can relate to the shoe purchases much more than the studying although I’ve spent the last couple of years studying more than I ever have before.

Nurse’s Residence

CGH Calgary

21 Aug 1956

Dear Marg

Well I bet you thought I’d forgotten you, hey! I’ve been meaning to get up every night this week but never quite made it.

Gee I’m mad!! I’m boiling!! We have to stay in here and study all day from 8am to 3:30pm! On a beautiful day like this! We’re supposed to be supervised but nobody is supervising us and everybody’s talking like mad. It’s just a waste of time.

Oh by the way I hear you went on a big date last night or rather you were supposed to go. Was the show – good?

Marg and I went to see the “High and Mighty” last night, sure was good. There was a big banquet and dance at Penley’s thurs night that all the kids went to except me. Maurice “had to study” so-o-o Kathy said I could go with a friend of one of her boyfriends but I didn’t like her boyfriend so-o-o. I stayed home and studied. Guess it was pretty good. I phoned home Wednesday. Well they didn’t have any news so I stayed in and studied some more, about a quarter to ten Maurice phoned and we went out until ten thirty. He was up to the library at tech all night.

Went over to the Macmillan’s for supper on Tuesday night. Uncle Frank and Aunt Georgie picked me up half way there- I was walking. Apparently ______ and Ken are staying in town for a few days. Marilyn and I drove all over town looking for _____ for canning. She’s buying them second hand. I guess she’s getting married at the end of October this time. Honestly that girl. She’s got more ______(I really wish I could make out this word lol).

Went to a baseball game between the Holy and us on Monday. We lost 18-11 but later we won two games so now we’ve got the cup.

Well I must start studying. I think I’ll get a pair of shoes before I go home. Am going on the bus.

See ya next week maybe

Love

Sheila

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In Grandma’s Words part 13 (FGK-75)

One of my most valued artifacts in this house is a buckskin jacket with beadwork sewn on it. I was told that years ago (waaaay before my time) one of the ladies on the reserve who Grandma was friends with wanted to go to a fancy function but she didn’t have a gown that was appropriate for it. Grandma gave her one of hers so that the woman would be able to go, and never thought much of it again. A while later the buckskin jacket was gifted to Grandma as a thank you for the gift of the gown, and the beads that were hand sewn onto it were taken off of said gown. I look at it daily and it serves me as a reminder of how important it is to live life with an open heart, to give freely, and to receive with gratitude. Again, I try to be sensitive to the words that are used. Grandma only every spoke respectfully of our Indigenous neighbours to the west of us, and so I stayed true to the words written because it was what was used at the time.

The jacket
The beadwork

Grandma’s Cheese Straw recipe! My kids grew up eating cheese straws, and they are one of my fondest memories of snack munching as a kid. I agree with her sentiment that it’s a very precious recipe.

All through the years we felt a close tie between us and our neighbours the Indians at Morley. We would contract fencing jobs to them all summer. In the fall they would often help us harvest. And later in November would often ride with the men to help round up stray cattle. I loved our Indian friends and felt I could always trust them. We looked forward to the First of July when they held their annual Stampede in the beautiful natural setting where they had built their corrals. What a magnificent picture to view. We would park our car on the hillside looking down into the corrals, and beyond them the big circle of teepees and tents and their children, cats, and dogs. And back of it all those Gissing blue foothills leading up to the Rockies. Where on earth could you find more beauty and activity? I always felt well entertained. My chickens were just nice fryers by July 1st and I always fried about four or five and along with a salad, cake, and sandwiches that would do us for the day.

My Harry Jacques, the jeweller from Calgary used to have a contest with a prize for the best dressed Indian baby. He very often asked me to be a judge and I wanted so badly to give first prize to everyone there, they were so cute and the beadwork on the buckskin was beautiful. Our kids just loved the first of July and the Morley Stampede.

We always tried to get to Banff or Vermillion crossing for a few days holiday and fishing just before haying. Once we went to Everett, Wash, USA and dug clams just as Percy did when he lived at the coast as a boy.

Family fun time
Family picnic at the ranch
As you can see from the caption “slave labour”. The running joke is that the CL on the brand stands for “Continuous Labour”.
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Worms, Parties, Well Wishes (FGK-25)

Mom always talked about how much she loved Aunt Annie who lived in the old house (so basically next door) until she got married. Auntie Gertie was another bright light in the world, I remember her as a kind woman who always had a smile on her face.

I’m not sure in Aunt Annie’s letter if mom had some sort of relapse, and if she was in the hospital or not. Her card didn’t have an envelope, but it’s a really cute card, as is Auntie Gertie’s.

Oct 3rd 1953

RR No1, De Winston

Dear Margie,

At last I have found my pen so here is a wee letter with your birthday card.

I was so glad to hear from you and to know that you are well and happy and just getting along fine. I know you’ll lick that thing and that you’ll not be too long about it now that you are over the hump.

Clarence is growing and changing a lot. You aren’t going to know your little cousin when you see him again. He is seeing all sorts of strange things himself. He was shouting and calling the other day so I went out to see what all the excitement was about. He was down and his hands and knees with his little face right down on the ground, and pointing to something. I had to get down too, to see what it was. I surely laughed I discovered it was a big __ worm. So if you hear about anybody looking under a worm’s tummy you’ll know it can be done.

We are going up to the Birthday Party for the Buckley boys, we will all miss you Margie, but we’ll really throw a party when you are able to be up and about again and can join in the fun. I hope you’ll be able to read this as I am rushing so that I wouldn’t be surprised if you had some difficulty. Clarence is asleep and I have my dinner dishes yet to do.

So I’ll close for this time and you’ll be hearing from me again.

With heaps of love and kisses

Aunt Annie xxxooo

This is a small card from Auntie Gertie – there was no date on it so I’m not sure exactly when it was sent. It’s a beautiful card, makes me feel like I’m home (which of course I am).

Dear Margie,

I’m still thinking of you. It’s wonderful to hear you’re improving. Keep up the good work. I’ll try to send you a letter next week.

Love from Aunt Gertie

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Dances, Gum Chewing, and School Stress (FGK-24)

I love this letter. I had so many questions I wanted to ask my aunt and I never did. I always felt a certain kind of kinship with her that I hope she felt too. Her daughter (my cousin) said that my aunt didn’t just know God, she had a relationship with God – and that has stuck with me ever since. I always admired the faith that she lived her life by.

But on top of that, she was quite funny. She would come out with some one liners that made me laugh so hard I’d almost snort (the sign of a really good laugh). And when she writes here about the gum chewing incident and the hair incident, I was like “me too Auntie Sheila, me too”.

Her letter reminds me of the time when everyone living in Jumping Pound knew everyone else’s business. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it meant that there was an entire community of folk looking out for each other, even if sometimes it could be a bit stifling. I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant to have a tribe of people close by who love and care for you until I moved away. It really is a unique kind of community we have here.

This letter was mailed by my aunt from Mount Royal College (now University) to mom at the Junior Red Cross Hospital, but then the hospital address was crossed out and the ranch one written in its place. This letter was written 2 weeks (and on my future birthday) after the letter Grandma received from Iowa regarding mom’s loneliness in the hospital (You can read that here). I wonder if she was able to come home for a visit or something.

Auntie Sheila would have been almost 17 when she wrote this. She, my uncle, and many of the other kids in the community attended (and lived at) Mount Royal College for their high school years. What a change from riding horses to school every day in their younger years.

M.R.C.

Mon. Morn. Jan 26, ‘52

It was postmarked 1953, so I’m assuming perhaps she did the typical January mistake and missed a year.

Dear Marg,

I put in a perfectly useless weekend. I just got up at 12 o’clock Saturday morning! Wasn’t that awful?

The dance was really crowded. They made $175 ____ cleared. They just “sit” lights over the doors Friday afternoon so we’re really high-toned now.

We got there about 10:30. Mom and Dad came too. It’s the first time they’ve been to a dance for a dogs age. the dance was well under way when we got there. A square dance was in the making with Laurie Johnson calling. Peggy R tells me that Donna Butters (Johnson) had a son last November, news to me! She also told me that S__ R___ is engaged to D___ _____ but she was at the dance with H__ P___. God what a mishap!!! I had supper with Harvey B we sat with Bruce B and his girl, Aubrey Moore. She’s awfully nice. I don’t know what happened to Sonny (?) but none of that crowd were there except Anita ____. Shirley Wearmouth was there too.

I deleted some names here, I’m sure it was all in good fun, but I don’t want to be the one bringing up ghosts from 70 years ago lol. The other blanks I just couldn’t make out.

I had a dance with one of the oil drillers. I was sure a fool to get up with him. he had a great big wad of gum and was putting his whole heart into the noisy recreation of chewing it in my ear. He offered me a chew but I declined quite graciously. Between Scotch and Spearmint we made out alright. Jackie Arnell was there with earrings that must have weighed a ton. I had a dance with Bill Scott, Jan McPherson, Laurie Johnson, Bernie Barkley, Wayne Sibbald, Uncle Clarance’s friend mom didn’t know his name, Frank Edge, Marilyn MacMillan, and Don Edge made me so proud. I had quite a few dances with Jim but anyway they would dance beside us and keep telling us it was chilly and that we should dance closer to keep warm and kept going on like this!I was simply furious and I think Jim was getting hot under the collar. He was really embarrassed but it didn’t bother me. If they wouldn’t have kept it up it wouldn’t have been so bad.

I have a social studies exam tomorrow, an English one Wednesday, and Chemistry on Monday. Work! Work! I had to turn in a book review today. I read “A man Called Peter” in the book section of the Reader’s Digest. I don’t care. It might have been cheating but I just didn’t have time to read the kind of books they expect you to.

Good to see that the education system has become so much more sensitive to how overwhelmed students are now (insert sarcastic smirk here). I remember pulling “Cole’s Notes” off the bookshelf in a panic to hand in a book report, and I’ve now I’ve helped my kids google information they’ve needed for the same. The method may have changed, but the feeling of being overwhelmed and the impending doom of consequences of missing an assignment is exactly the same all these years later.

Well, I guess I’d better get ready for school,

Love

Sheila

PS Peggy and I might go across to bridge to get me a pair of stockings after school. All together I have 8 pairs of stockings. Such is life

PS I danced with Hank too

PS Had hair in my soup for dinner so I couldn’t eat it.

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A “Gang Letter” from school (FGK-19)

Today I’ve got a “gang letter” sent from the little one room school house mom and her siblings used to ride to. Many of the names I recognize as they’re cousins of hers, or neighbours, and I was delighted to discover this is where “Rose” is from. I still don’t know who she is, but at least I’ve got her placed with where she came from.

It’s kind of fun to read the handwriting on these letters, some of the kids are so young and either just learning handwriting or mastering printing, the older ones are perfecting a much more stylish kind of writing. I thought it was kind of interesting to get the perspective of 10 different kids, of varying ages, about what was going on in their lives at that moment.

RR#2 Calgary, Alberta

March 30, 1953

Dear Margie:

Well Margie, the Easter season has rolled around again, and we are sending you a gang letter. The last letter we sent you was a gang letter, and we hope you enjoyed it, so we are sending you another one. Be sure you get the letters read in the correct order.

The letters were all numbered, so I’ve written them out in the proper order. As far as I can tell, they go from the older kids to the younger ones.

We are sending you a Easter surprise Margie, so don’t be surprised if you see a rabbit or chicken come hopping into your room.

Well goodby for now Margie

Your friend,

Elaine

PS You will be minus one letter, Margie, for Raymond isn’t here today

#2

Dear Margie,

We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago and in it we decided to have a penny march. Our pennies marched across both blackboards and the Red Cross Corner. today we counted them and found 422. Beforehand we had all guessed how many there would be. Elaine guessed 421 and won the contest. Her prize will be a chocolate bar.

Margie, our club has put in more money per person than any other school in Alberta!

As it is turning spring we decided to have a chart showing the signs of spring. We called it our “I saw” chart. Among the signs found are bluebird, blackbird, robin, green grass, ants, butterflies etc.

How are you coming with your schoolwork? I would kind of like to know.

Well, until I write my next letter. Adios

Your friend, Lawrence

#3

Dear Margie:

You remember our Red Cross corner, well Grade V and IV made a ski hill. It is excellent work. Especially for them. Ha ha. We have a slanted board about 45 degrees slant with imitation snow and men on toboggans and skis coming down the hill.

We are going to the hall to wash dishes tonight and try and clean the hall if possible.

I’m going to the dentist in the Easter Holidays and staying in town overnight.

Hope you’re making good progress.

Your pal

Rose

#4

Dear Marg

We will soon be hunting for magpies. The magpies and crows campaign will open April first. I think there will be lots of magpies . I think that south of the school will be a good place for hunting magpies.

The magpies feet and the crows feet are five cents a piece.

I hope you are feeling fine.

Do you like your doctor?

Do you like your room?

Sincerely, David

#5

Dear Margie,

The ice is getting weaker every day. The water has been running over the ice for about five days.

One Sunday, Elaine, Bill, Dad, Mom and I went shooting gophers. Dad took the first shot at a gopher 5 yards away. We were shooting for and hour and got ten gophers. The roads are fine.

Yours truly, Jim

#6

Dear Margie,

We are making flowers out of coloured paper to put on the windows. Grade one to nine have a window of their own. When it gets nicer we are going to put up the window boxes again. Grade four and five are against seven, eight, and nine.

The weather has been good this year. The flowers are coming out. we have seen a crocus up on the hill.

We haven’t had a trip up the the rocks yet this spring. We are going some of these days to scout around. When we get up there we are going to have a debate.

Do you like the room you are staying in? And do you like your bed? Is it nice and soft?

Sincerely, John

#7

We are having a rabbit contest and who ever wins the rabbit contest gets a basket of Easter eggs. We are going to see who can colour the nicest Easter egg. We are having a reading contest too.

Your friend, Lynn

#8

Dear Marg,

Grade one are having an Easter test. They are doing better than the last time we wrote. I am going riding with dad to 29 Saturday. I hope you are doing alright.

Your pal, Joan

#9

Dear Marg,

We had a game of basketball yesterday.

We are hoping we will hear the frogs soon.

We are having a reading test for Easter.

Love, Mary

#10

Dear Marg

I saw a redwing blackbird and a calf. I am going to a show next week.

Bill

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Speaking in Pig Latin (FGK-18)

When I was in elementary school there were several instances where either mom or dad sent in a note for the teacher. It became normal practice for little Melissa to get called up to the teacher’s desk so that I could read the note for my teacher, as I was the only one around who could read my parents’ handwriting. They both joked about how it was the downside of having gone to law school and taken so many notes, their handwriting suffered because of it.

I found a gem of a letter to share today. It’s one started by mom to her friend Rose. I don’t know who Rose is- anyone?? Anyway, I can confirm from this letter that the handwriting was not a bad habit picked up in law school, but was firmly established by the time mom was 13.

1820 Richmond Road

Calgary, Alberta

Nov. 21, 1953

Dear Rose

I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner but…

Thanks so much for all the magazines you sent me. We enjoyed them very much. I liked your letter too (what I could make out of it).

I have a strange feeling this is going to be a dumb letter so you’d better stop now and prepare yourself for it.

Honestly, if you knew all the things we did in here! Right now the whole ward is talking in Pig Latin and King Tuts it’s really fun. I’ve got so that whenever a nurse asks me a question I answer her in King Tuts then the whole ward starts it. The poor woman goes out feeling dizzy.

I wish you could see me now, I’m under a stack of comics we borrowed from the boys down at hall to give to the big boys for their checker game. We discovered we hadn’t read them so we are reading them now. We got the checker game anyway.

This letter made me laugh, I could see mom’s strong childhood spirit shining through in every word. It also made me think of when we lived in Quebec and the boy went to the all French school. He got so frustrated trying to learn French to keep up with his friends, that he spent recesses and lunch teaching his classmates English. I know this because I was called into the school and scolded for having such a rebellious son.

I’m familiar with Pig Latin, but don’t know about King Tuts. I’ll have to look that up.

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A Real Hay Day (FGK-17)

Today is Mother’s Day, so I decided to post a letter to my mom from her mom. I can hear not only Grandma’s voice, but her “mother voice” throughout this letter. It’s so full of love, and also carries the mother reminders (did you write the thank you letters?), and also includes how she’s got mom’s back and is so proud of how well she’s doing.

I also had a little laugh, because it does not seem as though family conversations about the Stampede have changed at all in 70 years – lots of grumbling about how it’s not so great this year and we’re just not going to bother with it, then we all go down and have the time of our lives. Same. Thing. Every. Year.

RR2 Calgary, Alberta

July 9th, 1953

Dearest Margie

Just thought I’d scratch you a few lines so that Sheila can post the letter form the Old Timers Hut at the Stampede tomorrow ‘cause I hear they stamp them with some special stamp from there and thought you would like to have it.

Sheila and Ann rode up to the school and the rocks this morning while I made cookies and weeded the flower garden. It sure was a beautiful morning an the newly cut grass smelt so good. The weather is staying perfect for the Stampede and that is a good thing because there is a terrific number of tourists in Calgary.

Did you write and thank Aunt Annie for that nice box of eats yet? Hope my cake didn’t make you sick.

Marshall is busy plowing up in the homestead with Bill, and Ken and Dad are building a hay slide in Grand Valley. They are going to camp over there for the three weeks it will take to put up that hay and Mary is going to cook for them so Sheila and I will really be alone here. I have been trying to coax Sheila to go to Banff with me to take a course at the art school but she is not interested. Marshall is just not interested in the Stampede this year and doesn’t want to go at all, we have tickets for Saturday night by may not use them.

Is Smokey ever glad to have Anne here – he’s just showing off all the time. I took a snap of Anne holding him in your room this morning but I doubt it will come out very well, it’s none too bright in there now that the leaves are on the trees.

Aunt Ruth phoned this morning to say she heard Aunt Agnes’ Mother had died so Claude and Harry are coming back from the coast right away, they motored over together. I haven’t been talking to Winnie for a long time, have you thanked her for the mice yet? I guess I should phone her one of these days.

Marsh said that Shirley Norman is in the hospital again. He said there were 24 men there, the barn is over a hundred feet long, and they didn’t get it finished. He and Richard worked together and he said Hazel really did have a field day – they served them a swell afternoon tea – ice cream etc.

I owe Margaret Rowland a letter for ages now, I guess I should be writing her instead of you but I sure get terribly lonesome for you these days, just pray and pray that you will soon be able to walk and then you can come home for holidays at least. We sure have lots to be thankful for though – you are progressing really fast for the length of time you’ve had treatments.

Well I guess it’s time I made afternoon tea for Marsh & Bill, Sheila & Anne want to take it out to them I think so I’d better get to work. I’ve cut out quite a few things from the paper for your scrap book. I’ll take them in on Sunday.

So long for now dear – will see you Sunday

Loads and loads of love

Mom xxxxxxxx

The fancy stamp they put on the letter at the Stampede Grounds. 3 cents to mail a letter!!
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Christening, pageant, banquet, and first steps (FGK-16)

I’ve found a beautiful letter from Auntie Gertie. You know, it’s funny how things evolve. I started this wanting to know more about mom and her life before me – stories were so rare about her life before and particularly during polio. But I’m finding that along with discovering more about who mom was, I’m really learning a lot about our community here in Jumping Pound, what rural life was like in the 1950s, and the power of love and faith. Somehow it seems fitting to me that I’ve found these letters and these memories while we are stuck at home because of Covid, and I couldn’t imagine writing this anywhere besides From Grandma’s Kitchen.

Cochrane, Alta

October 25, 1953

Dear Margie,

We’ve certainly thought about you often, especially since you were home at thanksgiving. I’ll bet you felt as if it was the best thanksgiving you ever had. Even the weather co-operated. Sorry we didn’t see you then, but perhaps next time you are home we’ll have a chance.

To-day we went to church again and it was a christening Sunday Service. Vernice Wearmouth had her baby christened and she had the hiccups so bad we all got the giggles. The babies were all good as gold and stayed right through the service.

Last Thursday I went to a pageant on the Growth of Christianity. It was held at Western High School. It was quite good, one scene had all real Japanese actors and I really enjoyed them. the girls were ready pretty. The play went back in history to the pilgrims who came over in the Mayflower and took us through scenes up to present times in such countries as Scotland, Holland, Africa, Japan, and ____?. The costumes were very interesting and added quite a lot to the story.

Last Wednesday George and I went to a banquet at the Nag-Hey(?) a rather picturesque restaurant built of pink logs. The main room has a huge fireplace at one and over which are hung crossed ski poles. On the walls are show shoes, skis, and other sports equipment such as fishing rods, etc. There are some beautiful pictures of Indians painted by Gerda Chiristofferson. the skin looks so real it makes you want to touch it. Back of the long guest table is a huge drawing of a bucking horse and various brands. At each side of this are old fashioned ox cart wheels. On the table is a church wagon illuminated inside by a green light. There are many curios about, stuffed animal heads, a snowy owl, a model Indian teepee etc. The one side of the room has very large windows that command a beautiful large scale scene of the mountains and the sunsets.

First of all we had cocktails or ginger ale as we preferred. Then we had a scrumptious chicken dinner. Later after a speech by Clarence and one by Edith Edge we had a sing song. Mrs Sam Scott played the piano. Then we had a dance. Everyone had lots of fun and it was sure fun to be out with friends again.

The W.A. had a fine Floral Tea a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Whitburn lectured on how to arrange flowers and care for them. Later the bouquets were given to the holders of lucky tickets. Then we had a tea and ___ of home cooking. I sold tons of the lottery tickets. One was to Nellie Bapti and another was to Mrs. Barkley. Georgie Copithorne won a lovely bouquet of roses and mums. By the way my sweet peas stalks and holly hocks are still blooming. Every day I expect to seem them frozen down but so far they have survived.

Last Friday the school children had a very interesting sports day. They had standing and running broad jumps, high jumps, foot races, and relay races. Then they put on a first aid show, demonstrating various bandages. It’s as rather cleverly done. Each child went over a high jump and purposely fell. At a signal from Mr. O’Brien certain students ran forward and gaven the patient a certain kind of bandage or a firemans lift etc. Done that way in a natural setting the first aid was quite effective.

Mrs. Cornelius Buckley married Art Koher lately. This Wednesday Edith Sibblad is having a small shower for her inviting only her well known friends. It should prove a very interesting party too.

Patsy is 5 years old now. My sister Sibyl(?) had a birthday party for her in town. None of our children ever had a real birthday party with guests and presents before. They always had a birthday cake but that’s all, so you see Patty had a pleasant surprise on her birthday.

I made rather a pretty punch work cushion cover lately. The design is made by pink roses and is done on black velvet so it is quite effective. Punch work is fun to do and I enjoy it.

Well Margie it’s time to get supper again. Seems as if all I do is cook. Food disappears at an alarming rate around here.

We are all glad to know you are improving and putting on weight.

Love and best wishes to you form all of us

Aunt Gertie

Edna just phoned to tell me you got some new shoes and took several steps today. We are so thrilled. Do keep up the good work. We are really proud of your progress.

That last part may have made me tear up a bit. Gosh, Aunt Gertie was a wonderful woman.

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Crazy driving, constant hope, and tea time (FGK-9)

Based on the timeline given in the previous post, which you can find Here, mom had been in the hospital for 3 weeks when Grandma wrote this letter:

September 1st 1952

Dearest Margie:

I have thought of you constantly all day but you won’t get a letter today from me, there just seemed no way to get one in to you. Dad and Slim and I came home from Calgary right after seeing you yesterday and we met a car right by the slough at Edges and it side-swiped us and burst our rear bumper. Boy! Was Dad ever mad. It was a car from our oil well and they were coming so fast we were really frightened so Dad pulled as far into the ditch as he dared to. We met the same car one Sunday when you were in Isolation and it nearly put us in the ditch that time too, and it tossed a rock up that hit our windshield and put another crack in it. We told him about it too and in no uncertain terms. His car was badly dented and scratched though. We had a miserable little cup of tea with cheese and crackers when we got home, then Dad did the chickens while I got a bit of supper and Slim helped the Ecklund’s milk. Then we got ready and went to church – picked Sheila and Marshall up first at Aunt Ruths.

I loved this story. I can imagine grandma and grandpa in this moment, but I also think of all the times white knuckling it in the passenger seat while grandma drove us somewhere. Or of my favourite driving story about her occurred probably in the early 80s. She was driving home to the ranch from Cochrane on the 1A when a car started following closely behind her. She sped up, the car sped up. She slowed down, they slowed down. Finally she hit the pedal to the medal and shot out of there only to see flashing lights in her rear view mirror. When the officer came to her window what he got was a lot of trouble “How dare you scare an old lady like that, what were you thinking following me?” She got an apology instead of a ticket.

And, there’s the little comment “we had a miserable little cup of tea with cheese and crackers when we got home” which may sound like it was no big deal, but knowing grandma it was a BIG deal. Teatime was something you didn’t mess with in this house, and there was usually something sweet. I remember when Grandma was in her 80s she fell and broke her arm. I was in emergency with her while they were doing X-rays and assessing her. The doctors and staff were quite concerned about her break, but Grandma was livid because it was tea time and what she really needed was a cup of tea. I remember her trying to explain to the doctor that if he’d just stop and leave her be for a minute so she could go out and get a cup of tea, everything would be just fine. They wouldn’t let her go, but I ran out and got her one, and it really did seem to make things better for her. In fact, in my family growing up, and now with my own family, whenever anything even remotely stressful happens, the first thing we do is make tea.

There sure wasn’t many at church, only 24 counting the minster, and he preached a good sermon too. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ed took the kids for a drive while we were in to see you. They were sure scared of his driving but enjoyed it otherwise. I think they went up to where the Cochrane Rodeo was to be held. We came straight home from church, I felt kind of sick – headache etc. But woke up feeling fine today. It is nearly 10 pm now so I’m really tired. We did a big washing today. Just after we got the lunches put up and got started with the washing. Uncle Clarence and Donnie came long. They stayed drinking coffee for hours. Donnie didn’t get into much mischief though, just let the hose on my washing machine down once and let the water run out it a while before Sheila caught him.

Dad was away measuring hay and Clarence just left and we cleared the table when Dad brought Dave Bryant and Mr. Fox in for coffee and they stayed until 15 to 12 o’clock. Then we really had to hustle and didn’t affect anyone only Dad for dinner but Rose (Reese??) and Slim came in too. However we finally got through washing and doing dishes and I wrote 11 thank-you letters and cards for you while Sheila ironed clothes.

I phoned Mrs. Hope today to see how you are and she said you are just getting along fine without Mrs. Powers. I was pleased to hear that, and Mrs. Hope was very nice, she explained why you had to have the penicillin etc. She said your kidneys needed it, your innards get so sluggish when you are so inactive and the penicillin is just a precaution, she thinks you won’t need much of it ‘cause she said you are rally doing exceptionally well now. I hope you get a little sleep now int he day time too. You must be very tired of all that mess of compresses but try and stand it for a little longer, it will be worth it to be cured.

I thought it was really sweet how Grandma explained to mom what the nurse (I assume?) told her about mom’s health. Mom was only 11 and all alone in the hospital and it probably meant a lot to know that her mom was checking up on how she was, and then to have her mom explain to her what was going on.

It will be worth it to be cured. Forceful hope is a what I see throughout these letters. Words are powerful, and whenever Grandma talks about mom getting better, she never allows for anything but constant hope and positive thinking about how that’s going to happen.

I am terribly tired tonight so I must go to bed now, I’ll write you some more tomorrow and I’ll be in to see you on Wednesday. Lots of love Dear – Mom xxx

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happiness

1952 – A timeline (FGK-8)

I have a letter written by Grandma to Mom in the isolation hospital dated September 1, 1952 that is 5 pages long. I’ll share parts of it as we move ahead, but at the end of her letter, Grandma included a timeline of the days before Mom was admitted into the isolation hospital and told her that she could stick it her diary if she’d like.

Throughout this project I want to be as culturally sensitive as possible while remaining historically accurate. I am including the more outdated term “Indian” although we now generally use the term First Nations. The stories I was always told were that Grandma and Grandpa built and maintained good relationships with our Morley neighbours to the west and I want to honour that. But our terminology has changed and I think my grandparents would also want to be respectful and culturally sensitive.

1952

July – Friday 25th – a young neighbour took sick

Saturday 26th – show in Cochrane

Sunday 27th – we went to church

Monday 28th – we went to Cochrane, you stayed in

Tuesday 29th —-

Wednesday 30th – took Indians to town (Cochrane) and brought you home – tired. You went to bed for your supper

July 31st – Went to show in Calgary with Dad

August 2nd – Saturday – went to show in Cochrane

3rd picnic at Morley. 4th —— 5th ——-

August 6 – Wednesday night – took Vera over to Margs – you were feeling sick – Sheila made you lie on chesterfield and covered you with the green rug.

August 7th – you ate a good breakfast – the last I cooked for you – toast eggs etc. But you stayed in bed all day and felt pretty miserable. was very sick at night.

August 8. Went in to Dr. and was very sick – went to Isolation Hospital

The timeline has never been very clear for me, I found this quite interesting to see how the last couple of weeks went for mom before she was admitted to hospital. How scary it must have been, and how the virus seemed to be a roll of the dice as to who was going to be sick and who would remain healthy.

I have to admit that reading this made me tear up a little. Honestly, most of the letters are painfully beautiful to read. But here, as Grandma was laying out the last bit of time that they had with mom when things were “normal”, it just made me so sad for Grandma. Much as mom never complained about things, I never once heard grandma say a bad word about anything that happened during this time. But as a mom it must have been absolutely heart wrenching.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of this letter from Grandma to mom.

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