Our winter clothes were thick and heavy and not always so warm. People nowadays have down-filled jackets, long warm pants, and fur coats. Only men and boys wore long pants when I was young. We girls wore long leg, long sleeve underwear, usually fleece-lined kind, bloomers, (also fleece-lined or wool knitted,) long brown stockings that fastened to a buttoned waist, with a dangly end, which fastened to the tops of your stockings. Awful invention, but we all wore them with long stocking.s Then came a sweater and skirt, or long sleeved dress, warm wool socks to the knees, then felt boots (mine were red) or moccasins. I liked these because you could slide real neat and you didn't have to clean them. Of course you had on a coat, hat or toque, scarf and two pair mitts.
Behind our stove in the kitchen for years I can remember a line we had there, about knee high from the floor. Every day that line was full of snow encrusted socks, mitts, and scarves. Poor Mom, the smell of wet wool must have got to her sometimes, when she thought winter would never end and the winter clothes could be put away, clean, in the big chest in the basement.
Frozen faces and fingers were common, but we survived. Sudden blizzards were the worst, and my Dad was out in all weathers, whether trains were hours or days late. Now I take my hat off to him and his endurance. He had to work shifts, and we were eight blocks from the railway station where he worked. As there were no buses, he walked (rode his bicycle in summer,) and if trains were more than an hour late he came home for a meal. As there were four to six trains a day, in winter it was very hard on him. During severe cold spells like this, when the cold fairly pulled the nails out of the wood in the house like rifle shots, I'd wake up t the smell of bran muffins cooking. It could be 3 a.m. and Mom would have something hot in the oven for him. They loved each other so much. I never got up only once, when I smelled baking at such a weird hour, but Mom gave me a buttered muffin and sent me back to bed, to hurry in where Mary was nice and warm.
There were three blizzards I clearly remember, that I was involved in. Most times we were safe at home. The first one I was about nine years old and I had set off for Sunday school, Sunday morning, with Ed. I don't know why just the two of us went, it must have been nice weather when we set off, but when we were to come home, one hour later, the storm was terrible. Mr. and Mrs. G. Oyum, who were both teachers and lived two blocks from us, got Ed and me home. Mr. Oyum carried Ed, who was 5, all the way. I hung onto Mr. O's coat belt and his wife hung onto my other arm. Mom was very grateful to them both as Dad was at work. Every Christmas after that, he gave us our Christmas tree. Mr. O. was a mail clerk on the CPR and he could easily get trees when they were in the mountains at that time of year.
|Old painting of a prairie blizzard|
|Trying to dig out after a recent Canadian blizzard|
Having lived in Calgary until I was thirty, I too have experienced my share of blizzards. Despite all our modern technology, cars with heaters, and paved roads, people still die every year in the brutal Canadian winter. Here's a photo of a Danish explorer, who looks just like I've seen many people look, including myself, after being out in a blizzard for twenty minutes:
|Dixie Dansercouer, The Advernture Blog|