Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My View #108 - World War I Songs

After the First World War a lot of war songs emerged and I remember the words and music of two of them. Motion pictures did too, the first show I ever saw was called "The Singing Fol," with Al Jolson as the main actor. The main son was "Sonny Boy," I don't remember the story at all, only the song. I was about 11 years old. The second show, I was 14 at the time, was a war story about a nurse who loved a soldier, her name was Colleen Moore. Mrs. Yeo, who took me, was a returned Registered Nurse who had served all through the 1st World War, she was reminiscing, a nice, nice lady. This show was called "Lilac Time," so was the main song. A beautiful story.  Here are the two song, which I still sing sometimes:

Climb upon my knee, sonny boy,
Though you're only three, sonny boy,
You have no way of showing,
You have no way of knowing,
What you mean to me, sonny boy.

When there are grey skies
I don't mind the grey skies,
You make them blue, sonny boy.
Friends may forsake me,
Let them all forsake me,
You will be true, sonny boy.

You came from heaven,
And I know your worth,
You made a heaven for me,
Right here on earth.
When I'm old and grey, dear,
Promise you won't stray, dear,
 I love you so, Sonny Boy.

Lilacs in bloom, rarest perfume,
Tells me winter has ended.
Springtime dear soon will be here,
When all our heartache has ended.
Closed in my arms' fond embraces,
Once more in life's happy places.

Jeanine, I dream of lilac time,
Your eyes they beam, in lilac time.
Your winning smile, and cheeks blushing like a rose,
Yet all the while you sigh, and nobody knows.
Jeanine, my queen of lilac time,
When I return I'll make you mine,
For you love I, our love dream will never die,
Jeanine, my queen of Lilac Time.

January 30, 2008

Didn't Letty have the most phenomenal memory for songs? The links in the titles take you to YouTube performances of these songs, and Mom's recall of the words is almost perfect. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My View #107- On Being a Great-Grandmother: "Tree Building"

Life takes us down many streets and byways, over many hurdles and swamps. I know, I've been there. I've had so many marvelous moments in life, I want to share with you, don't get bored with the first paragraph!

My grandparents and parents were all British folk, also my husband, as well as my sister's husband. Everyone clings to their old generations' heritage, thinking it the best, perfectly natural, until one breaks a thread in the skein and it is broken by a new marriage. A new branch of the family tree is born and grow. New culture, new language, methods, and family arrive and are welcome and the old learn a lot from the new branch. Some things you don't like, they are strange to you, but you accept things because of love, mix in, and enjoy the life all your new family brings. This always happens, it is called "tree building." We four all married, had families, and the tree grew, bigger after each wedding. That is life.

So far the four branches include Egyptian, American, Canadian, British, German, Jewish, Spanish/Ecuador, and 2-? no commitments yet, but always hopeful. So very interesting, each person and offspring adds a remarkable change to our family tree. I love every one of them, and hope they love me. No-one knows what is in store for them. My great-grandparents really started the tree, they would truly wonder, if they could see all the changes being achieved by all the tree branches. It still has a lot of growing to do. Every branch on our tree brings more blessings.

Maybe in years to come one of the family will write up the latest branches, with births etc. Have a wonderful life. I love all of you.

Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma Letty
January 21, 2008
I'll give a try identifying the various nationalities she mentions.

Egyptian, I have no idea. An aunt lived in Egypt for a time but was not Egyptian.
American, that's my husband and me too now.
Canadian, Letty herself, her siblings, and my three daughters and two grandsons.
British, my grandparents and my father. I was born there too.
German, my first husband; therefore my children have German blood in them.
Jewish, I have no idea. 
Spanish/Ecuador, Melinda's husband and her two children have South American blood.

Letty would have loved
From left: Ann (daughter,) Melinda (granddaughter,) Riel (great grandson,) Letty

Monday, September 28, 2015

My View #106 - The "V" Formation

The "V" formation is like an inspiration of nature. Just a few minutes ago I saw from my front window, a "V" formation of geese, flying in their beautiful natural flight pattern. It fascinates me no end, how this works. I know we humans can't read a bird's mind, but there are a few questions it would be nice to have answered:

1. Does one certain bird always be the leader of a group, or do they rotate? - They take turns, just like humans breaking a trail in snow. When one tires, he or she moves back in the group and another takes the lead.   

2. Do they eat a lot before they fly? - I could not find information on this, but my guess is yes. They stop at rest spots along the way to sleep, drink, and eat.
Canada Goose female and her goslings. Photo by Schneider
3. How large is the largest "V," does anyone know? - I could not find any data on this.
A V of Canada Geese - Photo by Schneider

4. What is the longest flight ever seen, how many birds? Canada Geese have been known to fly several thousand miles. The Arctic Tern has the longest migration in the world, from Arctic to Antarctic, about 25,000 miles round trip. 

5. I wonder if their honking and their talking is at the start only, or all the way? It must take a lot of energy to do both. I suppose I'll never know. - Apparently they communicate throughout the trip.

There is the "V" for Victory sign and "V" made with hands for "all is well." A "V" in the wake of a boat, is a popular signal. When did all this start? The dictionary says V is the Roman numeral for 5; we all know this. But geese flying in formation will always cause us to wonder, especially if you see them at sunset or against a full bright moon, and to hear their honking.

Enough for today. Do you think I'm crazy? Always questions. I'm sorry my mother never had the opportunity to get more education. Her natural curiosity would have been such a huge asset.

9 a.m., January 18, 2008

Friday, September 25, 2015

My View #105 - How Old Am I?

It is hard to imagine what goes on in a child's mind, when we ask this kind of question: "How old do you think I am?" Stunned silence.

I was visiting at a pre-school class, unprepared, when their teacher asked them that question. One shy little girl said "Five," a chirpy little boy said, "Six," and another little girl said, "A Gramma." Kids tell you a lot with these kinds of answers. I was so surprised, and thrilled, and wondered just what they did see in me, a 94 year old lady. They sort of knew me, I had been to see them often to tell them stories and sing kid songs to them. The age connection is missing. I was bigger than them physically, but not far from their mental level and capacity by their answers, someone to play with and a friend Small children are a treat to talk with, and that saying is so true, "you can't put old heads on young shoulders."

Letty with her first great-grandchild, Riel, in 2007
One day, leaving an elevator with several people, a four year old boy saw my cane, stopped and said to me, "Why do you need that stick, is it because you legs don't work too good, or because you are just too old?" I smiled at him and said "I guess it's because I'm just too old, dear." He was happy I told him the truth, and we all headed for the restaurant. His mother looked a bit flustered, but a smile does wonders and all was fine. One of life's brighter moments.

On different occasions I have been told I looked about 68, 70, 80, 85, and 90. What a lark!

January 10, 2008

Letty always looked younger than her real age until the last few years of her life. She loved children and was an excellent grandmother. When I was an older teen, she babysat her doctor's two youngest children. She would have been in her fifties at the time, when one of those kids informed her that she was "old, because she had grey hair."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My View #104 - "Band"

When I lived in England, many of the Yorkshire words got my fancy. One was the word "band." Mrs. Thewlis came over one day while I was wrapping up a parcel for Dad, and she said, "You'll need some good band for that, love."

"Band - what is band?" I asked.

"Oh love, it's a Yorkshire word for string," she said. "I used to work at the Band-walk a long time ago."

"Tell me what it was all about, please, Mrs. Thewlis," I asked. So she did.

There are several kinds of string, white, brown, yellow or grey, and different qualities, light and fine, dark and heavy, and in between stuff, e.g. "bandages" are made from many rows of fine, white band. I bet you didn't know that. Ropes are made from many twisted (ravelled) rows of very heavy band. You learn a lot more by listening than by talking.

Now the Band-walk was a one-storey, high brick shed, with lots of windows, about seventy or eighty feet long and twenty feet wide, with machinery at each end. One week they made one kind of string and another week another kind. Blanche took me there one day, to see the building where her Mom had worked. The band girls, three or four on each side of the band, walked miles, checking for flaws in these many strings flying by. The stuff was put in at one end, then twisted and spun around, finishing up a the other end on big spools, wrapped and labelled, and away, the girls walking and checking all the way, back and forth. Mrs. Thewlis (Blanche's mother) said it was tired leg work, but the girls three each side of the noisy, dusty long walk, liked the job.

Shoshiplatypus photo of Kent rope-walk, very similar to the band-walk Letty describes. See Shoshi's blog for a description of her historical tour .

I was with Blanche and her Mom when Mrs. Thewlis died, in 1946. She was a lovely old lady.

January 9, 2008

Monday, September 21, 2015

My View #103- Fog

There is a thing in life we call fog. This word has several meanings and they all relate to the one word, "fog." It can be light and white in colour, but it can be thick and brown (a "pea-souper,") or a deadly black that can kill people. Dreadful stuff to live through, and there are odd nicknames for some of them.

In severe fog, the whole of life is silent. The only people moving about outdoors are blind people. We had a couple nearby, both blind, you could hear their canes tap-tapping along the road and the two of them talking away. So eerie. Some of them succumbed to it too.

For happens when clouds come down so low that they touch the ground, for hours or days. It is amazing to me that sections of the world can be swallowed up by fog. I have seen some dandies, mostly in England, a few in Canada.

I decided to mention some of the stories I remember of Yorkshire and London fogs. One day, a Saturday, Ron and I decided to go to Bellevue Park in Manchester (30 miles away,) to see some motorcycle racing. We arrived there at 2 pm. We really enjoyed the trip and the racing. At 5 pm we went to a cafe for a bite of supper, before heading home over what is locally known as "The Isle of Skye Road," a two-lane highway over the moors. The Great North Road, from London to Scotland, was the only 4-lane road in 1946, so speed was not so fast. Shortly, we ran into a cloudy stretch of this lonely road and then all of a sudden, FOG closed in and we could only see the yellow line on the edge of the tarmac, on the side of the road. We couldn't see very well, so Ron said, "This is going to be a very slow ride home, so hang onto me." We were on the motorbike. So I did hang on and as he could only just see the yellow strip we traveled very slowly, Ron sliding one of his feet along the road, all the way home. It took us over two hours to go thirty miles. We still had fog but not as bad as riding over the moors. We were soaking wet, so tired, but home, had a cup of tea and then to bed.

In Huddersfield one time we had eleven days and nights of black fog. I will never forget it. Chimneys were blocked up, no buses running, many people sick, inside and outside filthy houses. Both children and I were sick in bed, Ron was off work and he was our nurse. Many people died.
Photo: Manchester Daily News. Time likely the 1940s, showing the terrible smog of that time.
So fog is not something I like. We survived. A few weeks later we came back to Canada.

If you live near water you get more fog, like in B.C. Michelle and I had a bad time due to fog a few years ago. It was terrible and we won't ever forget it. (Their flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver was delayed eight hours because of fog in Vancouver. They had visited Art and I in Long Beach, California, for Christmas.)

That's it for tonight, after a foggy day yesterday.

January 8, 2008

Huddersfield at that time was an industrial city, with over fifty chimneys belching out putrid black smoke. Of course today, we'd call that black fog "smog," and the amount of illness it caused was one important reason my parents decided to return to Canada.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My View #102 - Boxing Day

Today, people see Boxing Day as a grand sale day and party day. Well, they are wrong. Originally it was the day set aside to share food and a little money with the people who lived outside the castle walls. The Lords and very rich ones who lived in castles, ordered all left-overs from the December 25th feast be put in neat boxes and have these taken to all the houses which were in the shadows of the castle walls. That is why December 26th was called "Boxing Day." It makes perfect sense to me, to share good fortune in this way.

So "Boxing Day" is really a "help your neighbour day."

No "boxing ring," 3 minute rounds, or any such sport is connected with Boxing Day. How times have changed.

Letty Evans
December 29, 2007

According to Wikipedia, the origin of the term "Boxing Day" only goes back to the 1830s, but provides some additional theories and information. The basic idea, though, of giving food or gifts to servants and/or the poor, appears to be accurate.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My View #101 - Christmas 2007

It's been a lovely Christmas for me this year, a bit hectic for me, but I enjoyed it all. Michelle came on December 22nd at 2 pm and stayed the night. She brought me a beautiful calendar and I love it. We had a real good gabby visit, what a lovely girl she is. On the 23rd I got a bit of shopping done, and on Dec 24th lots of drop-in company; Eva and Frank (Wynne,) Colleen and Phil, and Carol Mills, so it was quite a day. I slept away the whole afternoon. The next day, I put dishes of nuts, fruit and candy out for nibblers. Annie and Art came about noon on Dec 25th, later than planned, after an incident at the Save-On-Food store, a "cops and robbers" affair at the store, where they went to buy salad "fixings." So no salad with our dinner that day. We all enjoyed a cup of tea, while we listened to the story. As they were late, I got three veggies ready. We survived and had a lovely dinner. Excellent. Annie and Art brought their two dogs with them, Old English Sheepdogs, Setta and Winslow. My hat, they are so good natured and friendly, those well behaved, big, hairy, happy, bouncy, lovable dogs. When Bob got here he was so impressed with them too. They love car travelling.

Art with Setta and Winslow

Setta giving Letty plenty of wet kisses.
After all had dinner, dishes all done, we all talked to family and friends on phones. Bob left, Art and Annie and I went to our beds, tired and happy. The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, Art and Annie left at 11:45 for the ferry. At 8:45 pm she phoned to say they were home.

Tired but happy.
Love from Mom

Today's weather will not be so nice, a cold and windy day for me to get my B12 (vitamin) short. Brrr!

Have a good 2008 everybody.

The "cops and robbers" affair Mom mentions was more cops than robbers. We went to the grocery store, as she says, and walked in the door, but noticed that lights were not on, produce was covered, and there seemed to be no staff around. We were not the only people; others began arriving, looking for last minute food for Christmas dinner. I went into the back of the store, and upstairs into the office area, but no-one was there. We debated leaving cash for what we wanted, but realized that wouldn't work either- no place to leave the cash and no way to be sure what the exact amount owed was. I found the phone number of a regional manager, and called him, leaving a message to say one of his was unlocked and people were wandering in. We then phoned the police, and decided that all the people who had wandered in needed to stay until the police released us. Then, a detective in plain clothes entered the store, showing his badge, and asking what was going on. He was unaware of the call into the police department, and once we explained what had happened, he waited for the uniforms to arrive. By then, several of the people were upset that they needed to get home to make their dinner, so the group said they should talk to the police first. No crimes had been committed, but it was a lucky thing; anyone could have cleaned out the store. A photo of Art and I leaving the store, our faces blurred, was in the local newspaper the next day. Later that afternoon, I received a phone call from the manager, who had been busy with his own Christmas, thanking me profusely for doing the right thing. By then he had taken care of the problem but he was lucky some good citizens were around. I wonder if the store manager retained his job?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

My View #100 - Tailors and Tragedy

My mother was one of three young ladies, training to be a qualified tailor in London, England, in the 1890s. These three young ladies, Annie, Sarah, and Mary met each other, started work, became very close friends for life, and well educated in doing a good job. My Mom told my sister and me what they did, and we asked her so many questions, she laughed. ..We learned a lot, most learning was "hands-on learning." Tubs of water, half full, held all the spools of thread, one for white thread, one for black thread. Later these spools dried in an oven. This was done to shrink the thread so it wouldn't shrink in the suit if it got wet. There was no mercerised thread in those days. Another thing, all hand sewing had to be done by tailors sitting cross-legged on top of low table, all their tools nearby. Imagine doing that in a long dress, under a long work apron (men had it much easier.) The story goes that the material for men's clothes was heavy to work at and could lose a lot of shape if allowed to hang down too long...
Showing a tailor sitting cross-legged on a table, with one female seamstress.
Mom showed us how to baste, 1/4 inch across and 1 inch down, only with white thread, very fussy, and you did it from bottom to top to keep it straight.

Men's pants had buttoned flies, in Mother's view that part was the true test, no such thin as a zipper in those days. Doing finishing work, before you got a diploma, was endless but beautiful work. (Sewing men's suits is much nicer than sewing ladies' material, it is more solid and I always liked ti better before I became a dressmaker, many years later.)

So now all three girls are ready to take on the world, and so happy. About this time, my Grandpa Edwin died, a big upset of course. Grandma and all the children, Ann (my Mom,) Fred and Will decided to sell up and go to Canada. Before they left, a party was held for the three girls, and they promised to work hard, save their pennies and come to Canada when they were able. Letters flew back and forth, Sarah and Mary planned and saved. Grandma, her sons and my mother worked and thrived. My mother met my Dad and got married May 19th, 1909 and they settled in Medicine Hat.

By now, Mom and Dad had a 1 1/2 year old baby. Twelve years had passed since they left England, and the two girls, Mary and Sarah, sent my mother a letter to say, "We are on our way to join you in Canada, we will stay with you as you said, till we settle in. We saved our money and now we will be with you, Walter and Annie, for Christmas. We are very giddy right now. The ship we are booked on is beautiful, called the Titanic. We'll see you, Annie and Walter, at Christmas."

Both girls went down with the ship. *see my note below. My parents were devastated.

I often think of those happy, lovely girls at this time of the year. I have a picture of my Mom with Sarah, but not one of Mary. What a terrible accident that was.

December 2007

Those girls would meet again in 1940, the day Annie, my Mom, died. I often wonder about life.

Letty could not watch movies about the Titanic, despite the fact that she was not even born at the time of the sinking. The impact on her mother must have been profound. A very personal story of a very public tragedy. Sadly, I no longer have access to the photo of Annie and Sarah, but I have seen it. They were wearing white, frothy, long dresses of the period, and carried white parasols.

I searched the Titanic passenger lists, and found a Miss Sarah Roth, who was listed as a tailor; however, she was engaged, and married her fiance a week after the disaster. They lived in Manhattan but later moved to New Haven, Connecticut. I could not find a "Mary" departing from Southampton, single, about the right age (25-35) in either third or second class. Another mystery!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My View #97 - Coureurs de Bois (Runners of the Woods)

"Coureurs de bois" were "unlicensed, French or Indian fur trappers roving early frontiers of Canada" (from dictionary.) This is a song they sang as they rowed the rivers in Ontario and Quebec in the 1800s. (They were around much earlier, in the 17th and early 18th Centuries.) So interesting...

Row brothers row, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near and the daylight's past.
Why should we yet, our sails unfurl,
There is not a breath, the blue wave to curl.
So row, brothers, row, the stream runs fast,
The rapids are near and the daylight's past,
So row brothers row, row, row.

We learned this song at school. More here about the contribution of the coureurs des bois to Canadian literature, art, and music.

Coureur des bois in winter
Oct 29, 2007

Every Canadian school child learns about the coureurs des bois, whose risky, adventurous lifestyle sounds romantic to us in the 21st Century. Read more about them here. They are not the same as the voyageurs of  a later time, but both groups opened up the Canadian wilderness to Europeans.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My View #96 - Russian Immigrants - Destiny in History

There is a long, wavy stream of Russian history, it seems to me, that runs through my family life, from the times my mother sang those haunting lullabies to my two little brothers...

Around 1920-1924 the (Canadian) government put out notices, in papers, to encourage Europeans, especially Russians, to immigrate to Canada. As my father worked at the trains, he knew which ones were coming in on what day.
Russian immigrants to Canada, specific location unknown.

I was about 12 years old, and Charlie 10. One day Dad said, "You both come to the station on Saturday, I want to show you something." That "something" was the sight of over fifty people from Russia, getting off there. Others got off at other stations farther on. These people took the "grant of land" and money and came to live here and work. Not many were there to greet them, only those who came to pick them up. Those poor, tired people, oh. They had many cases, full of possessions, packed in woven, greyish coloured big wicker baskets, on wheel casters that moved easily. The children, all sizes, were half asleep. Then everyone was gone. In later years some of these people were our close, friendly neighbours. I had many Russian friends at high school and they got a good education. They also did beautiful sewing and embroidery. Years later, hockey came on the scene, lots of fun.

Sidorchuck, Lapinsky, Palen, were a few names I remembered... One of the oldest Russian ladies I met in Calgary, was Ed Sidorchuck's mother, she was sweet, with her broken English, it was so very interesting to visit her in her home. Al Samek, Ron's first apprentice, was a very good Russian friend too. So I think the Russians did a good thing to come.

"Those bright laughing eyes, dreams of paradise,
We had planned to wed, now my Sonya's dead.
I can't understand why she left this land,
Now my Sonya's gone, I'm all undone,
So I weep and mourn, my Sonya now has gone."  
-(song my mother sang.)

Mom must have been very sad at that time of life. Her own Mom died just after Eddie was born, in 1917. Such a troubled world, and I remember her singing to my new baby brother, and Charles saying "put the dolly down and put me on your knee." (Mom told me this.) All this sorrow must have registered in my mind. Gran was gone, we all felt lost, I guess. But we all survived. Thank God for his love. At this time her brother, Fred Taylor, was a POW in Germany. Poor Mom, but she got over all this and was happy again.

October 29, 2007

My View #95 - Planet in Peril?

No, I don't think so. Humans talking. If humans can't fix it, who will? What conceit. Yes, of course, there are too many people, not enough food for 3/4 of the people, while the other 1/4 are too well fed. The earth will do its own thing, in its own time, from good to bad and to good, like it has done for all the many and many years of time. We want problems instantly fixed, right now, earth takes its own time to find a suitable cure, for occasional trouble, in its stride. If creating warmer climate is necessary, it will happen, doing much for needed repair somewhere on earth, that we know nothing about. All things have a good side and a bad side, so be prepared for some sort of change, though it may not happen for hundreds of years. Science people today, some of them, we hear, talk as if it will happen this Christmas. Whoa! Hold on there, God isn't that mad at us yet, but a warning cannot be ignored. Go populate the earth, but take it easy. Too many people on my land.

This is just my opinion, just to cheer you up, we can't do a thing that will help much, but enjoy your day. Only love lasts.

Happy Hallowe'en!

October 31, 2007

PS: I'm just glad no man can control the weather, never can and never will. Let's hope.

For the record, I disagree completely with Mom here; global warming is here and it is mostly caused by humans, and if we don't do something very soon on an international level, I shudder to think what the planet will be like in 100 years. In the eight years since she wrote this, evidence has piled up monumentally high. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

My View #94 - The Kicking Post

Finally Getting Rid of It

I have been thinking about this for a long time, and finally reached this conclusion: you can get rid of it, if you want to live longer. Don't get me wrong, it's nothing to do with our worldly possessions, no, I am talking about anger. It is a condition that can ruin a life, we can see or hear it, or of it, every day. Why, why, why? It is a normal feeling we all get once in a while, and we deal with it in a way, in time, and/or get over it, with reservations. Everyone has their limits of patience, and to avoid a repeat of hurt, apologize, or cut contact completely. Both work well.

Today I feel life is very fragile and in many cases short. Everybody is facing very hard decisions and many, no matter their age, do not know how to deal with anger, consequently, others are hurt or killed, or left without a confidant to talk and help them. As a child, we were taught to show respect to our elders (anyone who was older than us,) they were older and knew more, that was the way we all lived. 

One farm we visited had a Kicking Post in the big kitchen, near the back. door. I asked Mr. Anderson if it was to hold up the roof. He had a good laugh and said, "No, we don't use it anymore, all the boys are away now and I am glad we had that post. Anger in a person raises an awful lot of energy and has to be controlled, or it can be deadly. My Dad had one of these for me and my two brothers, we always ended up laughing."

"What does it do, Mr. Anderson?"

"Well, when my three boys were working the farm, quite often, too often, they got mad at each other, wanted to fight, throw things around, and be real nasty. They soon learned what that post was for. I was cross with them too, and took them into the kitchen and said, 'Now you go to it and kick and punch that post until you get rid of that anger, and don't stop until you can laugh; I'm sitting here watching you.' He kicked and punched for 34 minutes before he stopped and laughed. 'Now go out there and work,' I said. 'Thanks, Dad.' He got over his anger."

What a good lesson. It also teaches respect, the most ignored condition in the world today, I'm sorry to say. This is the result we get, trouble. Anger can be controlled if we want to try.

Not a cheerful subject, but a necessary word or two on the subject relieves my mind. There is so much anger in the world today.

October 11, 2007

This is fascinatingly sound advice from a woman who had a great deal of trouble handling anger herself. She tended to deny her anger when I was young, and avoided conflict with others, unless she was the initiator. In her last few years, as she became more and more childlike, and life became more and more difficult, many people including me, felt the sting of her anger.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My View #93 - The Violin

My favourite musical instrument is the violin. Next in line, piano and flute, were very much involved in my life, we were a very musically involved family. We all loved to sing.

A violin is made of ebony wood, strings and pegs, wood, mostly made in Italy many years ago. When I was ten years old my Father handed me his violin and said, "Here, Let, hold this, like this, and hold the bow too." I did as he said, and I said, "Oh, Dad! Can I learn to play it? Oh please, Dad," and he said, "If we can find a teacher." I was so happy, and soon Paul Knapper, a Russian, was my teacher. I loved it. My Dad was a good player.

It is very hard on everyone's ears to listen to violin students practice, poor Mom. Me, and two years later, Eddie was learning too, 3 violins in one family, also Mary on piano and Charlie on flute. Ow, heck, I bet we nearly drove her bonkers. Poor Mom, she had the patience of a saint, my lovely Mom.

The world famous Fritz Kreisler was my hero, when I heard "Rosemarie," a wonderful, elusive, spine-tingling piece of music, played by him. I heard it recently on the radio and my feelings were the same, "all goosebumps."

The last time I played a violin was in Ilford at Jack and Blanche's house, near London, England, in 1945.


October 8, 2007

Letty kept her childhood violin for many years, and had it repaired for the visit of another violinist, then sixteen-year old Jane Gregory from Huddersfield. Jane pronounced it "definitely not a Stradivarius," but we had fun listening to her anyway. A few years later, Mom sold the violin to a music shop.

Her and my father's love of music was evident in my childhood home, too. My brother and I both took piano lessons and we both still sing.

Sadly we have no photos of Letty with her violin.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My View #92 - The Candy Store

What child doesn't wear a big, big smile when they hear these words, "Come on, let's go to the candy store!" We had three candy stores in Medicine Hat, that I remember, Doty's Candy Store, Houlden's Candy and Ice Cream Store, and Court Brothers' English Sweet Shop, all quality places. these shops were located in advantaged areas, Doty's on a very busy corner of Third Street and Sixth Avenue, Houlden's located on Fifth Aenue and Aberdeen Street, one block from the main swimming pool, a very good spot, and Court's Sweet Shop was in the business section of Second Street. This shop was a wonderland of special candy.
Near Court's Sweet Shop - the closest I could get to a relevant photo.
In other parts of The Hat there were also stores on The Flats, The Hill, and Riverside and Crescent Heights, all had theirs. Taylors owned the nice store near my Godmother's on Balmoral Street, we went there when visiting Aunt Mary and Uncle Will.

Now I avoid candy, but the yearning is always there, such is life. Wonderful lot of memories. Grampa Evans, Ron's Dad, had a sweet shop in England, he only sold chocolates there. Ring a bell, kids?

Sweet love to all my family. XXXX

October 5, 2007

My View #91 - Flowers

Flowers are like the people who give them, "Just beautiful." The first flowers we pick and give to a person, as we learn to walk and talk, usually are wild daisies and dandelions, "sweet bouquets."

We plant flowers, raise flowers, collect seeds of flowers to plant again next year, to raise more blooms. It is a habit forming culture and the results are beautiful, colourful and a great benefit to all. Some flowers we enjoy more than others, so our hearts tell us what to plant this year. Every flower gets a chance but the ones we love most appear year after year, like "old faithfuls" and sort of identify us, like pansies, sweet-peas and tulips. My garden mainly is a spring garden.

Some flowers we identify with painful times in our lives, like lilies, geraniums and roses. But these also appear in our gardens and remind us of someone we loved and lost.

I was "given love" today, a pot of very bright yellow mums, for Thanksgiving, by a wonderful friend. Every plant has its flowers, even the lowly potato and onion. We need flowers for the honey, we need honey for our toast at breakfast, so it is a beautiful cycle for all of us. Let's plant some flowers.

Bye-bye for now.

October 5, 2007

Flowers can make us cry, or laugh, with merriment.

When I was a child, my parents had a huge vegetable garden for purely practical reasons, but it was her flower garden that Letty loved best of all. Whenever friends came to the house in summer, she'd ask them, "would you like to see my garden?" And they always said yes.

My father had bad memories of geraniums, probably to do with the deaths of his parents when he was a young child,  and he asked Letty to never plant them.

After I moved to the United States, and was unable to visit Letty for Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day and her Birthday, I always ordered a bright bouquet for her. I'm glad she enjoyed them so much.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Exciting Find!

Dear Readers,

Today I received an email from Carrie-Ann Smith who works at the Canadian Museum of Immigration - Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of her colleagues did some digging at my request, and found the record of my mother's landing in Liverpool, England, on October 29, 1944. The document is a bit hard to read, but here it is:

Letty's is the 6th name down, as Evans, Florence Letitia.
I can't tell you how exciting it is to have a real document in my hands that details one part of my mother's journey to England.  It has convinced me to keep digging.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

My View #90 - Corsets? Bah!

Who invented corsets? I bet it was a man, one who saw or bought a china figurine and wanted all women to look like that wasp-waisted figurine. He was a menace to adult females. A 19 inch waist was the fashion of those long-ago years, now we let it all go by the board. Whale-bone "stays" were used in corsets then, and the tighter laced the better; how unhealthy and uncomfortable! How revolting!!
1898, woman wearing a corset
From reading Wikipedia, corsets actually date back as far as ancient Greece, and have gone through many iterations since. I agree with Letty, thank heavens they are gone. Many articles have been written about the negative health effects of corsets. 

Now freedom, whoopee! A bra and a girdle did the job, for now and for years to come, with no problem. So now you smart ladies, change things again, and go along in slacks or shorts. The prize goes to you, for rebelling over those long years, you have won. As for me, I am stuck in the panty-hose era.

Ironically, while corsets are now limited to costume design and sexual fetishists, women today torture their feet in stiletto heels. It seems we have exchanged one form of body torture in the name of fashion, for another.

Any comments? I thought this issue might make you smile.

October 3, 2007

No wonder there was a shortage of whales years ago.

A corset has stays made of plastic, whalebone, ivory, or metal. A girdle has elastic only, no stays. When I was in high school, all girls wore a girdle. How else were we to keep our nylons up? However I recall having severe cramps after each day wearing a girdle while sitting at a desk in class. When pantyhose appeared, I thankfully threw the girdle away. Now I wear no hose at all, except for special occasions.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My View #89 - Toolshop

When we lived on Third Street, my Dad had a shop at the bottom of the garden. He was a carpenter and loved wood and all the tools that went with that hobby. He earned his living as a postal clerk, carpentry was a hobby.

From eight years old I could be found in the shop; I was Dad's helper as the two boys, aged six and four, were too little at that time. I had a good time and learned an awful lot about different woods: quality, grain, drying , and from what area or country, and how to cut to advantage. It's an education. Same with tools. I learned what they were for and how to use them and look after them, a few I do mention here: a "spoke shave," "block planing," "reading" threads on nuts and bolts, treating saws properly, types of nails etc., also how to mend and putty glass in windows.
A spokeshave is used to smooth spokes of chairs.

Block planing creates a smooth surface from multiple strips or blocks of wood glued together.
I didn't know I would remember all this kind of stuff at this age. Enough for now, where were no electrical tools in those days. A "brace and bit" and a "yankee Drill" were interesting. When Dad sharpened saws, I didn't stay put, terrible noise. You always "measure twice and cut once," same as in dress-making.
A brace and bit. This tool was replaced by the electric drill; drill bits go in the lower left part.
A lot of joy came out of that shop, though, especially at Christmas-time, wonderful toys. My mother planted sweet peas in front of the big shop window, rather pretty.

Much love,
September 24, 2007

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My View #88 - Time Goes By So Fast

I was asked why.

We all remark as we get older that time seems to go faster. No it doesn't - we get slower.

When we are forty, we fly around the house at a fast easy speed, like we were teenagers. We just couldn't slow down, teens to raise, jobs to do, dancing, racing or paddling, we didn't stop or even think of slowing down.

Now at sixty, our children away, let the shopping and dusting go for three instead of two days, I have to rest a bit over a cup of tea. Sometimes this little rest - oh! I must have fallen asleep for a few minutes. Meanwhile the clock on the mantle says 5:30, oh dear, where did the time go? But time and tide wait for no-one, not even me. So get up and make a meal. Be happy.

Now its time to size up the 80s, what a change that brings, time is limited for me to be of much use. It is a very different period in life, time has got me by the tail and I"m dragging my feet and objecting to being pushed and "hurry-upped," so to speak. So just go ahead and do your thing and we will meet at the coffee shop - but not Starbucks, they are too rich for me, but the coffee there is OK. This is the sweetest time, to me, my family all "growed-up" like Topsy, phone calls and letters are my treasures, and I know I am loved by all my family. There was time for all these things, clocks can tick, tick, tick, we get tired, but that is the way I lived my life in my 80s.

Now the 90s have me in their clutches (by the dictionary it means to snatch or seize - one more word for you to learn.) Well, now how fast am I moving? At a very slow level, as I go about my day. It can be very boring at times, not much to do, or want to do. You do have time to think, about things and jobs, people and the serious shape our very beautiful world is in. Sometimes you wish you could not remember many sad things. This passes, another happy time remembered takes its place, and time of beauty returns. Your family is your life, old friends have died, new friends made, you find a lot of happiness and time still ticks away, without missing a beat, like a strong brave heart.

Life is rarely boring, there is so very much to do for other people. Time will tell. At 94+ I think it will be better. God bless us all. Mom xxx

Time flies
Man dies
Enemies fight
Friends unite
Let us.

September 18, 2007

 Letty was indeed the superwoman she describes in her forties. My observation of her in her nineties was that she became increasingly isolated and her life became very dull. She lived alone after my father died in 1996, and was unable to drive, so she was dependent on others to visit her and/or take her out. Studies have shown that lack of socialization contributes heavily to depression and dementia in seniors; yet she resisted moving to an assisted living facility until it was too late. It was a lesson to me, to ensure I live somewhere with others, no matter my age.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

My View #87 - The Sea Salt, "Bib and Tucker," and "Horehound"

The sea is full of Salt,
Salt, the earth's purifier.
Sea-salt is very different
From the Table Salt we require.
But the Salt in the sea
Restores the quality within,
Where fish, mammals, turtles, live and swim.
Their own special empire
Of freedom, beauty, desire.
We watch and look with envy
At these wonders, through a glass,
A partition in a "sea-world,"
They watch the human mass,
With sardonic glances, as they pass,
And go about the "job, of pleasing man.

This gift, we are given, from God.

Letty Evans
September 16, 2007


Bib: (1) Your best clothes you have to wear, to go out visiting. (2) An apron-like cloth, tied under a child's chin, at meals.
Tucker: A detachable collar of muslin, mostly worn by women.

It is said in the 17th and 18th centuries "tucked" clothes were the style for men and women. Poor beggars, what a lot of ironing it must have created. Wool and cotton were mostly worn by people then. Our loose clothing and variety of materials today would have shocked those people. Here is another definition of the term.

Horehound plant

This was a bitter juice extracted from the leaves, stem and flower of the Mint family, used in medicines and candy. This candy was a very hard twisted stick, 6 inches long, greenish grey in colour. It was used for sore throats and colds, when I was a child. You broke it, sucked a piece and you felt a lot better.
Horehound candy sticks

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My View #85 - Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes are one of nature's wonders.
Prairie Rattlesnake. Photo by Steve Thompson

They live in very hot climate, in summer, then hide in rocky dens in winter. They are very poisonous and a bite is usually fatal as they are of the "American Viper" family. Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, however the prairie rattler bites are not usually fatal. See a veterinarian's page here. They grow to about 3 1/2 feet long, a mixture of green, grey and yellow, in a diamond pattern (In Medicine Hat area we had a lot of Diamondback rattlers.See correction below.) Each year they grew a series of horny rings at the end of their tail, that made a rattling sound when the snake shook.

They loved to get into barns, chicken runs and fence posts. They shed their skin in August, a very bad time to meet up with a rattler. Once, on my way to church camp, suitcase in hand, to meet at a school with other 17 year-olds, I stopped at the lane crossing to let a truck pass. In that moment a rattlesnake raced over both my feet and out of sight. Phew! It sure scared me and I knew I was so lucky. I think the noise of the truck made it hurry.

The Bull-snake, a bigger one, 7 or 8 feet long and two inches across, is the big enemy of the rattlesnake. They kill them and I've heard that they eat them (how true is this?) Bull snakes are friendly and don't mind being picked up and are very heavy. I wasn't brave enough to pick one up, but Ron and Bunny Warren did and I took a picture. Sadly this photo is missing. Here's another photo of a bullsnake.
"Pituophis catenifer sayi 007" by Psyon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -
To go back to the other snakes, when you have heard the rattle, en eerie, soft, swishy sound, like broken glass sliding on glass, you do not forget it. It makes my skin prickle, just thinking of it.

August 28, 2007

Diamondback rattlers do not live in Medicine Hat, or indeed, anywhere in Canada. The rattlesnakes Letty knew about and encountered are Prairie Rattlesnakes. You can read here about prairie rattlesnakes and bullsnakes in Alberta, Canada.