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Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

In my great grandmother Mary (MacDougall) Darrach’s letters between 1904-1907 to one of her sons and his wife in Boston, I enjoyed her warm sense of humour and the poetic turns of phrase in her writing. I thought I would share some moving and entertaining lines from her letters with you, as they offer a glimpse into family life in Clyde River. Mary and John Darrach had 11 children of which nine lived. At the time of these letters, about half her children had moved to the Boston area. Fan (Frances Darrach Beer) that she refers to in her letters was my grandmother.

  • Well, we are another year nearer home. For sure my time is drawing near if we go by years, but can’t tell who will go first. There is none of us too young. Now our time is passing. It’s good to be ready. This world will keep us busy but when we come to leave, it won’t do much for us, neither will our nearer and dearer friends. Life is short; eternity is long.
  • If you could see the banks of snow. I have never seen anything like it. You would be scared to go on the roads for fear anyone would meet you and go off the track. It is out of sight in some places. As for feed for the cattle, we have plenty.
  • I wish you could see all the valentines the boys and I got from Boston. You never saw such a racket as was over them.
  • Father is about the same, complaining as usual, this wet weather is against him.
  • Uncle Alex is not feeling well, but he has to work till he drops. His money won’t help him much when he’s gone.
  • On Monday, I got three four-leaf clovers…that would be good luck for me to have my children come home.
  • I wish you were all home today and for a few months. You could fish smelts for pocket-money.
  • Poor Fan was in hope the cows won’t go dry, but instead of that, there was three cows calved, churned 16 lbs. of butter today. It makes lots of work but is good to have lots of milk. The hens didn’t lay yet. Fan thinks she’ll stop feeding them and perhaps they will lay better.
  • Uncle Alex is sometimes miserable, takes weak turns. He took a turn the other morning, They thought for sure he was dying. He made awful moans, gasping for breath. She gave him some cold water and he came to. He has no strength. She is the same old stick but I like her, poor thing.
  • We must hope for the best, such is life, ups and downs.
  • The snow was about gone before the snow came, so there is not much sign of spring here now.
  • We had a social in the hall to pay for the church organ last week. It was a poor night, too, but they made 27 dollars.
  • Well, I am back from Eldon. I went Saturday and came back on Tuesday. We had a nice drive. It was the red mare, the best horse there ever was. We could barely hold her back, just as fresh when we came near home as she was when we left Eldon. They are all well. They were awful pleased to see us. I love to see my own.
  • Give my letter to the rest to read, as I have no time to write, as I am hooking.
  • One of my geese had 14 goslings. We are milking 10 cows, three to a calf. The big mare has a lovely mare foal.
  • There is a lot losing their cows. It is hard on some for they are short of feed and no grass yet. (May 30th)
  • Fan is house cleaning upstairs since she got them away, as usual. If you sleep one night up there, she is up the next day with the broom.
  • I couldn’t get an egg what but the hens was lousy. When I would go to gather eggs, I would be full of them, so I took a shovel, broom, and a fork and I cleaned it all out, puts lots of brine and ashes into it, too. Hector helped, as it was raining and gave them all a good bath in sheep dip. It was quite a job.
  • Uncle James is getting blind, can’t butter his own bread.
  • See how sudden Mr. Jones across from us was taken, a woman left with three small children and her not a bit strong, so she has to have strangers do her work. A woman is not much on a farm; however, the Lord is good. He will provide for her.
  • Hector is upstairs getting ready to see the woman, I think Fan expects Fred, for she is dressing up, but poor me, I have my knitting, that’s all for me now.
  • Thank you for the vest you sent to John (her husband). He was so proud, he didn’t know which way to wear it, but he made up his mind it was for Sundays. It was just the thing for him, if he would only wear it every cold day, but he is saving it.
  • Mary is wearing muffs every Sunday, so she is five steps above her dandy.
  • Fan is cleaning ever since she came home. The broom lost 5 lbs. and dust pan 3 lbs. since she came home. I had them both nice and fat but now all gone. Poor father, too, he could walk in before, but now he has to sweep and scrape his feet and then she’d be shouting at him. He says he is as much trouble to her as the flies were.
  • Lizzie got jammed behind the home comfort. They all had to get up from the table to pull her out, had an awful pull to get her out, such speeches you never heard, everyone adding a little.
  • I am very tired tonight, as were hooking all day and it is very tiresome when you have to be up and down. I will be glad when it’s done. We will finish this week, 3 1/2 double weight, lots of hooking on it and it’s for Fan. I hope we have no more visitors this week till we finish hooking.
  • We finished hooking last week. We hooked 11 yards. That was pretty good. I am awful tired, as I am now weaving. I set up the loom and got to it.
  • Aunt Katy and Flo was over to Aunt Maggies and when they were going home, they got in the ice. They got a pretty good dunking. (March)
  • Uncle Alex is quite blind but he comes over to our place, just by guess. We always go to meet him when we see him coming.
  • Referring to an old lady in church, she wrote – Our minister was preaching about Abraham last Sunday and she was asking him when he came out if Abraham was in the pulpit.
  • Upon hearing that her new granddaughter was named Mary after her, she wrote – I am highly honoured to have her named after me. I hope she be spared to you and live to be a good girl, and thank you both for remembering me. I thought it would be a fancy name but is a chosen name as the mother of our savior was named Mary.

Letters are such a wonderful treasure which connect us to those ancestors we would love to sit and have tea with for an afternoon. We’d likely get a job hooking or weaving though.

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Ronnie MacKinley will join us in Clyde River next Saturday, February 20th at 1:30 p.m. to talk about the days when all the communities in the area went head to head in the game of hockey. All are welcome, and we extend a special invitation to those who played on the teams in the 1950s and 60s to join us. Make sure to take along any memorabilia you have to display for this occasion. We are bringing in extra chairs, as we know it will be popular. However, you may find yourself falling off your chair laughing when natural storyteller Ronnie gets wound up.

I found a feature on the Island Narratives site that talks about the interesting history and community spirit that saw the North River Rink constructed in 1949, opened in 1950 and serving the area for many years, link here.

See you next week at the Riverview Community Centre in Clyde River. Refreshments will be served.

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Welcome to the first in our series “I Remember When…”  This will be an ongoing feature on the Clyde River Website, and we look forward to you sending us your entertaining stories. We would like to collect little snippets of memories from Clyde River folks of living in Clyde River or, in some cases, other communities that they were raised. There may be a bit of an overlap with those featured in the History and Stories of Clyde River, but we are especially looking for new stories.

The stories could be as far back as anyone can remember, have been told to you by an elder in the community, or from more recent times, which in our fast paced world already seem like olden times. This series was inspired by Victoria MacPhail who as part of a history course a few years ago interviewed elders in and around the community and carefully transcribed her notes which are a great treasure to launch the series.

Submit your recollections to vivian@eastlink.ca, add to the comments section below, or tell me a story at a future community event. We hope you enjoy this feature and send in your stories. Here are few rememberings to inspire your own memories. Contributors and the characters involved will remain anonymous to protect the innocent and those slightly less than innocent.

I remember when…

I walked to Clyde River school when it was a one room school and it held about 40 kids. Winnie MacMillan was the teacher for a few years and she was quite a good teacher. Then there was another teacher. He could get a bit cross, and if you weren’t doing a good job of reading while in front of the class, he would come up and knock the book out of your hands.

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I hated math and I hated school. I was happier to be home on the farm doing things. My sisters went on to become teachers though. At the time, I didn’t think I needed an education, but now I think that having more education wouldn’t really hurt anyone.

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Christmas concerts were the highlight of the year. I always ended up with a recitation which I hated to do. There were dialogues, but I always had to do a recitation. There would usually be a big turnout for the concert, although there wouldn’t be any outsiders, just the people from the district.

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I never really played hockey, just played or skated with friends on the pond, either Cameron’s, Christie’s or the Mill pond. We also went to Cornwall rink quite a bit in Winter.

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One Saturday morning, on our way home from the rink, the horse ran away from me and my sisters. We didn’t get hurt, but it was quite a time. We were still in the sleigh when the horse took off. Luckily we were travelling in the field, so we didn’t run into any posts, but it still was a terrifying experience.

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All the family on my Dad’s side always took turns to hold Christmas each year. They usually had a goose for Christmas Dinner, rather than a turkey. It would be a goose raised on the farm. We exchanged presents. I got an expansion bracelet from my aunt once which was my mother’s; it was one of my favourite gifts.

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I had to hold the lantern for my father while he was finishing up the farm chores in the evening and hopefully my homework was done before it went out, as I would be out with my father for a while.

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We often went to lawn parties such as one up in New Haven. There would be a tent set up with a wooden dance floor, and you’d dance to music provided by the locals, likely a fiddler or a guy who could play a guitar and sometimes a mouth organ. There would be some drinking going on and there would be an odd fight.

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A guy in Montague would come up and put movies on in the old hall in the summertime over in Canoe Cove…that was a long while ago. These movies would cost about 25 cents. The movies were usually Westerns. Often you’d take turns driving the car over. You’d put two dollars worth of gas in the car and go.

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Until next time, remember when…

(from the transcripts of interviews provided by Victoria MacPhail)

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A New Year’s wish for you and yours (Of course, this is not original but it’s rather cute and includes some great advice for 2010 stated in a humorous way.)

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your
ophthalmologist, your psychiatrist, your cardiologist, your urologist,
your proctologist, your gynaecologist, your podiatrist, your plumber,
and REVENUE CANADA.
(more…)

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