DIM FIRST MEMORIES
My first memories stem when I was about three. I vaguely remember a tiny trailer or building on the farm yard where Allen and Louise lived with Jim; likely Donna was a baby at that time, too. I don’t recall ever living with them there, but Jim and I ran around the yard all day together, completely on our own.
I know Allen & Louise had no electricity in their little shack because one day Allen had bought ice cream and put it in the freezer at the farm house where Mom & Dad F lived. I was longing for this special treat, so I was hanging around hopefully and Allen promised we could have some ice cream after dinner.
That thrilled my little heart and of course I wanted to be helpful, so I ran to the farmhouse and asked for the ice cream – or got it out of the deep freeze myself – and carried it back to their shack. But it was way too early; Allen told me I shouldn’t have brought it yet because it would melt. He must have taken it back then — or sent me back with it. That I don’t remember.
Why did this incident stick in my mind? I can’t recall that he was so angry or punished me. It’s one of a dim collage a child collects, times when something unusual happened.
I have a few mental pictures of living in the farm house with Mom & Dad F and their son Verne. I remember sitting at the round hardwood table. It seemed vast at the time but when I saw it again in my teen years it was quite small!
Mom kept a singing canary she called Dicky and I remember it died one day. She and I were both sad. Later that evening (unknown to me) Verne and Dad got a few feathers from Mom’s old hat and fashioned a new bird. When I came downstairs the next morning and saw this bird sitting in the cage I was delighted!
“Look! Dickie has come alive again,” I announced, amazed that he would be a different colour now. However, that new Dicky didn’t do anything. After a few days he, too, disappeared –the fun was over and someone finally tossed it out.
When I was four years old Mom F went to work in Melfort at the hospital for a winter –or a year? I don’t remember if Verne went with her (he must have), nor where the Vances stayed. After this she went to Saskatoon and took a job at the University Hospital. that time I know Verne went with her, leaving me on the farm with Dad. This situation added another scene to my collage of memories.
The farm house “plumbing” was an old outhouse across the yard. I still remember waking up one night and needing to go to the bathroom. I was scared to wake Dad up; I knew he wouldn’t get up and take me and I was safer not asking so I crept downstairs to the door and stepped outside.
The back yard trail I had to take to get to the biffy seemed so long! I have a clear memory of standing out there searching the shadows for creatures and gazing up at the night sky, seeing the tree branches outlined in the moonlight. I’m sure it was the fear that imprinted this scene on my mind so indelibly. I was quaking as I made my way to the outhouse, yet I was even more frightened to risk “an accident” and the subsequent punishment of a spanking. Dad’s temper was a force to tremble at!
It’s funny that this was the only incident of that nature I recall, as I stayed with him there for almost a year before Mom came and took me to Saskatoon with her and Verne. Perhaps I usually made it to the biffy before bedtime or I’d had extra much to drink that evening?