Hartington, Ontario was the first village I ever lived in. My dad and mom had built a little bungalow on, what would now be considered, a large lot. First memories include a beautiful red pedal car. So exciting! I wasn’t much for dolls, although I did have a black cloth doll I never far from me, preferring instead to have tools, or follow my dad around curious about what he was doing and putting myself forever in the way, to help.
I started life with three older siblings and there was never a dull moment. We slept girls in one room and boys in another while mom and dad slept on a bed chesterfield in the living room. There was an outhouse (yes) that no-one wanted to go to in the middle of the night.
We had a very old fashioned (at least now) ringer washer and dried clothes on a clothesline running from the house to the back of the yard. Our baths were taken in a tub set to heat on the wood stove and later, an electric heater you could set in the water to heat it up.
Eventually, the front yard was completely dug up to install the new septic system and connect water to the house. Finally, running water and a flush toilet. By that time there were six kids in a tiny house and it was getting a little crowded. Not much fun in the bed when someone decided they would just wet instead of getting up.
I do remember when dad came home with a brand new wringer washer for mom, she was very excited. There were a few tense moments with that dangerous machine as one of my siblings got their arm rolled through it, and we learned to treat it with the respect it deserved. Clothes were still hung on the clothesline weekly and it was great fun running around under the almost dry sheets, having them glide over you as you pushed through them. This usually caused mom to come marching out and threaten us with our father. We ran away giggling, as dad wasn’t really the threatening type. Dad was a short Scottish type, handsome guy, who loved playing guitar, singing and playing with us. He would be the horse and we got to try to stay on his back while he, on all fours, pretended to be a wild steed trying to buck us off. He was an athletic guy who’s daily job was driving transport in Kingston. 25miles to work and 25 back at night while driving all day too.
Dinners were always around the table, where else would they be, and you had eat your dinner up before having desert. Home made apple pies, pumpkin pies, peach upside down cake, and some kind of spice cake with hot super sweet sauce drizzled over it offered plenty of inspiration to eat your veggies.
I was a bit of a wanderer from a very young age. I would worry my mother to death when I would disappear onto the dairy farm land behind our house. I was forever wandering to a watering hole about a mile away where a fresh spring came up beside railway tracks and trickled down to form a wonderful cool pond. The water was very good tasting – not sure that’s a good thing but I was 7 and it was good enough for me. I befriended a few of the cows there, many not minding me around at all.
Back home, I would not be the centre of attention, mostly my older siblings had enough drama going on to keep me under the radar. My brother would be tearing up the neighbourhood with his friends, driving fast, drinking and once in a bad accident. My oldest sister was also a going concern, hanging out with the older group and at one point even messing with Hells Angels group who thankfully told her to get lost, she was too young. She was 16 at the time.
Most of my young years were under close watch and supervision, to this day I believe it kept me quite naive about a lot of things in life. I have my wandering older siblings to thank for that. My brother married young at 18 and his wife was 16, they were good for awhile but divorced after 2 children and about 15 yrs together. My oldest sister married also quite young and was pregnant – almost a shotgun wedding. After that, my parents stopped interfering with who and when we would marry because that wasn’t working for anyone. I chose my guy at 19 and we lived together for a year and decided we could stand each other for awhile more. We were very much in love and have been together now 44yrs.
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