January 18, 2010
Serena Anderson, 84
I mentioned last month that I’ve scanned in a number of pictures from my grandparents’ old photo albums. Everything I’ve put up thus far has been from my grandfather’s youth, and so I thought I’d mix things up a little bit by putting up some information on my grandmother. A great deal of the following text comes from an interview I did with my grandmother for a school English assignment. I have no idea what the project was about, but I must have put a lot of time into it based on how long the interview was. Anyway, I recently came into possession of a number of my old computer files, and I was delighted to find this conversation typed up. I’m sorry that some of my questions are a little stilted and her answers tend to ramble. I was just a kid when I did this, and I had no idea how to conduct a proper interview. I have added some recent additions and notes. You’ll find them in square brackets.
My grandmother will be 85 this August, and a lot of interesting things have happened to her: As a newborn she spent six months in a hospital, hours away from her mother, and she may have been almost adopted by her mother’s cousin. Even my grandmother is a little hazy on the details of that episode. Her father died in a logging accident before she was five years old. She spent a lot of her childhood as a pair of working eyes for a blind neighbour. She grew up very poor during the Great Depression. She gave up school at fourteen after her mother was in a car accident, and then she got a job working for seventeen cents an hour six days a week in a wool mill. Her youth was spent in a very different Canada from the one I live in today, and I think I’m rather lucky to have these stories to paint a picture of what that was like.
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November 26, 2009
I mentioned in an earlier post that I spent last weekend up at my grandparents, and I scanned in over a hundred old photos. Here are a couple of them, along with an essay my grandfather, Murray Anderson, wrote at some point for a local newspaper about his days as a milkman in Bracebridge, Ontario, in the late 40s and early 50s. I don’t know which one, or when, or how much of it was published. This was the draft he sent them, and so I’m republishing it at its full length with pictures from his old albums.
It’s a pretty great collection of stories about a very different world, when horse-drawn carriages shared the road with cars and trucks. I lived and worked in Mennonite Country for a year after graduating school, so it’s not a totally foreign concept to me, but somehow it never quite sunk in just how much the horse decides where it wants to go until I read this essay. Throw in the steep hills of Muskoka, and the icy winters up there, and you can see just how much a willful horse like my grandfather’s Queenie could change the whole business of getting around town.
Murray Anderson, age 24, with Queenie
A day in the life of a milkman in the 1950s
Refrigerators were non-existent for the working man. Ice-boxes were what some could afford, the rest of us just let the kitchen tap drip on the milk bottle to keep it cool in summer (also let it drip in winter to keep the pipes from freezing, but that didn’t always work – these were in the days before central heating, running water, and indoor plumbing for the working man).. Milk delivery was a 7 day a week affair in the summer months and 6 days in the winter, which meant a double load for delivery on Saturdays.
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