Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bio #17 - Birthdays, Christmas, and Hallowe'en

I never once had a birthday party, nor my brothers or sister when we were young. With four children you couldn't give to all or to just one, it was just too expensive. Instead, we had a Christmas party, and these were fun. Mom being an excellent baker, we had lots of goodies only seen at Christmas.
We put on a birthday party for Letty when she turned 90 and again at 100.
When I see Christmas cards with the old-fashioned red sleigh, it makes me think of my childhood. We had many a ride in one, behind a blanket-covered horse. He would snort and breathe out clouds of steam. Oh it was fun, with a blanket or buffalo robe over us and a few hot bricks for our feet. The harness had bells on and it was a great way to get around, as there were no snow ploughs to clear the streets.
About the right era. Photo from Bentley Historical Museum

We had hand sleighs Dad made us. The fastest in town. Some folks had bobsleds, actually four sets of runners and one big board bolted to join them together. Ours was about five feet long. Some were eight feet and a lot of people could ride together. The last one on usually got bumped off, but it was a smashing way to ride.

The church young people had fun on the big sleigh-rides. About twenty of us paid 10 cents each for the driver and he had a big flat dray and horses. He took us out fro an hour all over the place. We would snowball each other, ride a way and have a good time. Up hill we walked, then down hill we rode. After a hot drink and eats we went home. I must have been on a dozen of these rides. We got very wet, but it sure was fun.

Mom's brother Fred came once to visit us at Christmas. He was a tease. He took Charlie into the pantry once and said he was going to pull out all his teeth with a pair of pliers. The rest of us kids were scared to death and there was such a yelling and pounding came from that pantry. I was only 6 so I was scared. Then the pair of them came out grinning. He helped us open Christmas parcels, and we had to untie every knot. Parcels in brown paper took a long time. I still have one of his regimental maple leaves off his army uniform, from the First World War.

Dad never enjoyed any childhood and he said if he ever had a family they at least would have one. And we did. Take Hallowe'en. He was the biggest toad in the puddle, and we loved it when he came with us some years. I remember one year, he went and showed us one trick. We never hurt anyone, but this had them guessing. I think it was like this: we had a long spool of thread, a tack or thumbtack, and a cake of resin. Fasten the thread to a window frame with the tack, reel out your thread, and hide over the fence, off the property anyway, tighten the thread and rub the resin along about two feet of it at your end. It sounds just like a dozen cats having a fight. The back door would fly open and lights go on, and not a thing would the people see. A couple of times at each house was all we did, but it was fun to see the looks on their faces. Things went along fine till Dad sprained his knee, then he gave up going with us.

1920s, children in Halloween costumes, location unknown.