Prologue to “Stories From My Prairie Childhood” – Why I’m Here
From retirement on I began to receive and amass a considerable amount of family memorabilia. In 2017 I had become totally overwhelmed by the mountain of disorganized information and didn’t know where to begin. Then I discovered Learning in Retirement at Carlton University. Courses on writing memoirs were available and I jumped at the chance that I might be able to climb that mountain. I’ve been scaling it ever since, at times still overwhelmed, but determined to at least reach the age of 20 on this wondrous and revealing trip into the past. I am assisted by what I learned on the courses and by the informal group that has persisted since my first class with our excellent instructor, Dr. Anna Rumin.
The series “Stories From My Prairie Childhood” focuses on a period that span years of depression and WW ll from the perspective of a pre-teen with two exceptions – “Tough Love” (still to be published) and “Rubella or Rubeola?” (where I was at the ages of 13 and 14). The stories are relatively ordered but may dissolve into disorder from time to time. Memories are like that.
The first story in this series is 1. The Pasture.
4. Rosebush at War 1941
It is Friday afternoon at Rosebush School – 1.5 miles north of the hamlet of Daphne. Daphne has now been reduced to a lonely sign on Hwy. 6. Its grain elevators, once the high rises of the prairies, are now long gone and its only resident is a farmer with a great sense of humour, Walter, who has appointed himself Mayor of Daphne. This role continues to be uncontested.
At Rosebush we began each day with opening exercises, starting with the raising of the flag. Winter exercises were conducted inside where we saluted a picture of King George. In summer we lined up in phalanx form in front of the school and saluted the Union Jack. Our salute was a combo of raising our right arm at an angle of 45 degrees and straight ahead, followed by bending the elbow and touching our forehead with the back of our right hand. We solemnly intoned the Lord’s Prayer and we sang patriotic songs: – There’ll Always Be an England, O Canada, God Save Our Gracious King and The Maple Leaf Forever. Our vocal fervor was followed by vigorous calisthenics, no doubt intended to encourage adequate blood flow to sleepy brains. After that it was down to the business of learning. All days were pretty much the same except for Fridays.
In 1941 the expression TGIF had not been coined but was certainly relevant as an early version of this weekly communal exhalation. Its joyousness varied. If you didn’t work a standard five day week or if you worked all the time it just wasn’t as exciting.