Saturday, February 28, 2009
LIFE OF MY FATHER - 17
LIFE IN FLIN FLON - FROM A CHILD'S PERSPECTIVE
As a child growing up in Flin Flon, my life would not have been very different from the life of any other child. My father went to work at the plant every day, came home each night, rarely went out on his own; my mother did the usual things, cooked and cleaned, made clothes on her sewing machine, read fairy stories to me, listened to the radio, picked cranberries and blueberries, went out to shop and visit her friends, and had a new baby, my sister Suzanne, when I was five.
What made Flin Flon different was its lack of road access, and its rocky topography. Getting away from the town meant taking the train, which my mother did almost every year to visit her family in Edmonton. As there was no bus service and few cars, children beginning at age six walked to school even in the depth of winter. The bedrock on which the town was built meant no gardening, sewer boxes built above ground, and the scarcity and expense of fresh fruit and vegetables especially in winter.
Children had a freedom that would be virtually unknown today. There was an outcropping of bedrock in the backyard of the bigger house on Grandview Street that my parents bought when I was two. This rock flattened out before descending to Ross Lake some distance away. At quite a young age, I was allowed to roam freely though this area, fortunately never falling down and injuring myself, though on one occasion being reprimanded for ripping a new dress.
I often went to a small stream of running water where a few willows and blue bells were growing. This became my very own secret place that was never mentioned to anyone. It was especially precious in that it was surrounded by acres and acres of bedrock. In summer, all the kids on our street played outside together. We had a game called Aunty Aunty Eye Over that involved, as far as I can remember, hurling a ball over a roof, then racing around the house trying to be the first to find it.
It was very cold in the winter, and the Northern Lights made beautiful shimmering patterns in the night sky. In the evenings, we took our sleighs, which had steel runners and a wooden cross piece for steering, up to the top of Hillcrest Avenue and sledded down in the dark and cold under the Northern Lights.
Because there were no telephones, I had to take a note to the babysitter on my way home from school when my parents wanted to go out for the evening. On one occasion in Grade One, we were doing splatter work which involved a tooth brush, a screen, some paint, and with the brush trying to splatter the paint through the screen onto a piece of paper. I was so involved with this that I failed to notice that Miss Dunning had come and taken my note. Later, in a panic I went up to her desk to tell her it was lost, only to be reprimanded for having had it in the first place as she returned it to me. Oh, the injustices of childhood!
Another incident involved two sisters, Carol and Joan Kent, daughters of my mother's friend Kay Kent. Their father was also an HBM&S engineer. We were at the Kent's cottage (my parents weren't there) and were given pumpkin pie for dessert. We would have been perhaps five, six and seven years old. Joan and I hated the pie, but Mrs. Kent made us sit at the picnic table until we had eaten all of it. To this day, I have never been able to eat pumkin pie.
In the photos are:
1) Carol and Joan Kent with me in the middle on a day when we had obviously been very naughty.
2) My sister, Suzanne, and me, aged 2 1/2 and 7 1/2.
2) The coat with fur trim which is my first memory.
3) My parents first house on Callinan Street.
4) My parents and me in front of the Grandview Street house.
5)My Mother with me as a baby.
6) My Sister Suzanne and me in 1946.