Remembrance Day – (Verhaeghe)

Papa (2)
21 Years of Age

Our grandfather, Edmond Gustave Verhaeghe had joined the Belgium Calvary during World War I or as he called it The Great War. He had already lost his older brother Arthur in the war. He never spoke of being in battle or what happened which we never pushed but he did tell of the time that he had been captured by the Germans and made a prisoner of war. The Germans at that time sent prisoners to work on German farms where the sons and farmhands had been taken into the army.

Papa and the other prisoners were under guard, twenty-four/seven although on Sunday, a single guard would walk the identified Roman Catholics to the nearby church in the village and back again after Mass. The guard would not attend but would wait outside and then walk them back to the work farm.

This continued on for a time until the guards were getting a little bored with watching these Belgium Catholics and they no longer wanted to walk the distance to the town. Finally the time came when the guards told my grandfather and the other men that they could walk to church on their own, going straight there and back. The guards figured that since the men wore prisoner clothing they would not be able to go far, as people would raise the alarm seeing these men walking on their own in another area besides the road to the village and back.

Papa and the other soldiers took their advantage as soon as they were in the village. Slipping down a side street they found a clothes line full of laundry that was dry. They quickly changed from the prisoner clothing to these men’s working clothes. Dumping their clothes in the garbage bins. Once changed they paired up so to be less noticeable than a large group of men. In pairs they made their way back to their country of Belgium. Hiding in fields and forests, stealing food as they could as they made their long walk through enemy territory, never seeing that work farm ever again.

And that was the only story that Papa ever shared about being in the First World War. In fact I did not even know that he had an older brother nor that he had been killed in that war. He did not speak of it ever.

unknown soldier

When I was in elementary school and brownies, we had the day off for Remembrance Day on the 11th of November. This was changed in the early 70s as it was thought that the day off meant the children were no longer learning how important that day was but we knew. All Brownies, Scouts and Girl Guides marched in our town Remembrance Day parade. I walked with my father James Michael Broomfield who was in the British Air Force as well as being a child in London during the bombings of the Second World War and my grandfather who was a veteran of the First one. It was a very, very special day and I was very aware of the why of Remembrance Day. When this changed in High School the ceremony we had in our classrooms truly were a pretty poor substitute for walking with Papa and Dad to the memorial in town. No matter the weather we were together as a family remembering what our family did and where they were during the wars and why it was very, very important to never ever forget.

Cover -RemembranceSP

Halloween – (Broomfield)

1380627_228186347342532_467684343_nThis was my favourite day. At school in the early days you could wear a costume but it had to be your patron saint or at least a special saint. Mom had a white tunic made for me with red velvet trim on the sleeves, neck and at the bottom. As well, a beautiful double armed cross. Dad made a sword and shield covering it with silver foil as well as painting the same double arm cross on the shield. I was Joan of Arc. Sadly no picture was taken with my white and red tunic and black leggings as I stood proudly in class holding my shield and sword and announced my patron saint St. Joan. One year I won a lovely little Hubbel figure for first place I was so proud to give that to Mom when I got home.

Once school was finished it was time to change and get bundled up for trick or treating. One year I was the wicked queen from Snow White although something was lost getting the extra clothes to keep warm as you can see. To this day I have no idea how we managed to cover all the territory that we managed. Often it was Pam and Beth Lee that came over to go out together. We covered the two mile strip around my house first with dad following with the car. After finishing1962 Dressed up for Halloween them we went down the road to the sub-division nearby and covered both sides of the street, hitting every house. We would then get back into the car and head to what was called the Pines in town and go to every house that my dad knew which was nearly everyone there. We would also cover a couple of businesses that Dad knew and maybe one or two more friends in the sub-division at the top of the hill on the other side of town. Thank goodness for really strong and big pillow cases which was our choice for hauling our candy. By this time everyone’s feet were sore and legs were tired and we were all ready to go home and check out our haul. Dad would drop my friends at their places and I would nearly fall asleep in the car on the way home. Once there, of course, there was that third or fourth wind in order to dump out the pillow case to check out what I got. Sorting before bed was just as much fun as getting the stuff. I know my Mom and Dad went in and got something for themselves but that was okay, I had enough candy to last until Christmas.

When we were in figure skating and there was the skating show that we were in at the end of the season sometimes the costumes that were made for the show was perfect for Halloween too and friends that were together in the group went out trick or treating together, just like we skated together. Halloween was a full, full night covering miles with friends, we rarely did any tricks except the very, very few that had their lights on and yet didn’t answer the door – they got some soap on their windows but in all my years of treating I can only remember doing that twice. Everyone went out from house to house until they were finished elementary school which was grade eight. Once in High School it was the Halloween Dance after going around dressed up all day.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

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Fair Day! – (Broomfield)

18 - right of waySimcoe Fair or as it is known now Norfolk County Fair is 178 years young now. Kids Day is now called Young Canada Day and a bit more supervised than it was in my youth.  In the 60s and 70s the Monday before the Fair opened every school handed out a kid’s pass for free admission to the Fair. Mothers were on the phone to plan who would drive there, who would pick up and what times as we kids tried to push the time we could stay at the Fair. The older you were the longer you could stay. We saved our allowance for weeks ahead in order to have extra money with us. Moms and Dads usually gave a bit more in order to cover rides better. Sometimes you got money with instructions to buy Salt Water Taffy or Fudge or some other treat for the parents.

When you were very young mothers came with you and took you to the little kidsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA rides but once you were past grade one well, that was a whole new adventure. Your friends got together and away you all went. Moms dropped you at the Fair gate and the instructions were – stick with your friends, do not wander away from each other, we will pick you up at 4 right here at the gate. Away we went with the Fair ahead of us. Through the gates hundreds and hundreds of groups of children went in. The only ones who had a grown up with them were what we thought of as the babies. Rides, games and all the buildings were open to us. No grown up really came to Kids Day because it was not for them really. This was our kingdom on this day. First was to go to the rides and of course since we were now parent-free we could also go on the big rides. Having friends meant we were always challenging each other to go on the really scary rides. Teasing each other that we saw you with your eyes closed. To be honest – mine were closed most of the times. Rides were much, much longer than they are now and by token, each token was just ten cents although there were a few rides that were the biggest rides that would be two tokens but never more than that and they went longer.

A two token was the Salt & Pepper which, of course, turned you upside down and backwards too. I never saw anything because once I was fastened in and the shaker started to move I closed my eyes and prayed that it wouldn’t go on forever. We all dared each other to go on it together. It didn’t seem so bad with friends. Once we needed a break from the rides we started checking out the food. After all we were without any grown-up and therefore we could eat whatever we liked and we sure did. We tried games of chance and walked until we just had to go on a ride where we could sit. The Haunted House was a favourite after all Halloween was coming too. Kids rarely checked out the buildings except those we knew gave away free stuff. We didn’t really care what the stuff was but it was free and they were giving it to us, like we were important. I suppose they knew our parents would get it one way or another so it was worth a shot. We watched the One-Man Band and Trapees Artists and so many wonderful acts just happening everywhere. One building had our artwork if our teacher submitted it. You could win a ribbon so that was a building we just might check out to see.

2018 - goats2The kids who lived on farms had their special shows with their horses, pets or any creature that was special to them. 4-H Club was there in full force. This was a group that unless you were part of you were ignored but that was okay, the show areas were places to sit if your feet needed a break.

One of us was in charge of keeping an eye on the time and when it grew close to meeting our Mom then we tore through the Fair from whatever end we were at, stop at the booth with the food they wanted, use that money that was set aside to buy it and head to the gate. We all talked a mile a minute trying to tell the Mom driving everything that we saw and did. The goal of this talk was to try to convince them that they had to bring us back some evening, although the trade off with that was that we would probably have to visit the buildings with them.

Next day at school every class had to do something about their time at the Fair. Writing stories or reviews, art or whatever a teacher could think of. They did have a plan for any child that didn’t make it to the Fair but as I remember nobody in our class ever needed the other plan, every single kid went to the Fair.

Now as a Senior I don’t go to the Fair on Kids Day or Young Canada Day, I go on Senior’s Day but whenever possible I try never to miss Norfolk County Fair. If you want to see more pictures and fun at the fair, below are their Facebook page and their Fair Page and if you find yourself in Norfolk County the week before Thanksgiving – come to our Fair!

Facebook – Norfolk County FairIMG_20141011_163031148

Main Site – Norfolk County Fair

Powder Snow – (Broomfield)

68Mar10abMy sister, when she was small, was a little toughie. If you said no, she said yes, if you said, don’t go there, she would run for it. In order to keep her safe and out of mischief Mom and Dad put hooks on their bedroom, my bedroom and the bathroom to be used when we were not in those rooms because my sister loved to explore.

When she was two she would sit in the pot cupboard underneath the stove and close the door until she could only peek out and then she would wait for someone to walk by. The doors would fly open and so would a pot in the direction of whoever was there. She would giggle away as she shut the door for the next victim.

One day, I got home from school and our mother was frantic looking for Anna-Marie. She was no where to be found. There was not a sound anywhere in the house. I offered to go check out on the golf course near the swamp because she loved gooey places. I told Mom that I would put my books away and then go out looking right away. I opened the hook on my door and as I opened it there was a cloud of powder floating in the air. I looked with horror as my smiling, happy sister sat in the middle of my bath powder, my bath salts and make up spread all around her. She squealed out “Snow!” and shook the powder even more.

I called to Mom that Anna-Marie was found and moved towards her just furious68Nov06 as all my 12 year old prize possessions were completely ruined and covering my floor, bed and book shelf. Mom got her first and scooped her up to take her away to clean her up as I got the broom to clean up my room and see if I could salvage any of my gels, powders and glosses. The best we could work out was that I hadn’t put the hook in completely when I left for school and that Anna-Marie turning the doorknob and pushing as hard as a little 2 year old could got the door open. When she got inside, she quietly closed the door and as she did the hook fell back into place. When Mom was looking for her she was only checking that the hooks were in place. Anna-Marie was so very happy playing in all that forbidden stuff that she was as quiet as a mouse, even when Mom was calling her name. She knew better than to let anyone know she was there. From that time on, any time we could not spot Anna-Marie we lifted the hooks on the doors and checked inside. I was much more careful about putting my hook down tight.

Scan83 (3)

Minoux – (Broomfield-Potvin)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the longest lived cats we had was Minoux. She was a princess from the moment of her birth and lived to the full age of 19. She was found abandoned in a shed in Buckingham, Quebec. The person there took her to a local vet and a lady from work told us about her. We said yes, we would take this kitten. When we got her she was so tiny she could fit in the palm of my hand and yet her fluffy tail was longer than she was.

One of the things about Minoux was that she lived with us in apartments and although she would peek out down the long hallways, she did not go out. When we moved to the upstairs apartment of my mother-in-laws we brought in Minoux in her carrier and let her out to explore her new surroundings. She began right away but was totally confused by what probably appeared to her as a hole in the floor. The stairs going down to the main floor. She sat and looked up at us as if to say – What the hell is THAT?  She sat and looked at this weird hole in the floor for nearly three days on and off until she finally put her front paws on the step below. With great care and very slowly she made her way down the stairs for the very first time.

Through the rest of her life she never did go down stairs like most cats do but more of a glumping kind of way. Front paws first, the back paws together. Going up, she was perfectly normal but down was a completely different matter.

The first time she explored the downstairs she came across Robert’s mother, Minouxwho was pleased as punch to see her. As she spoke in French to Minoux to try to coax her to her, Minoux arched her back and hissed at her. That was Minoux’s attitude to Robert’s mother for the thirteen years we lived there. Every time she ran into her, she hissed at her.  Funny thing that Georgette was the only person that Minoux ever hissed at.  I think she was trying to tell her that she did not belong in her house. Minoux was the boss of all our homes (in her mind I believe) and this lady did not belong.

People who say that cats do not have expressions on their face truly have never lived with cats or paid much attention to them. Minoux was very capable of letting you know exactly what she thought of things. One year there was a lot of construction and mice had fled that area and found their way into the old houses of the neighbourhood. One, in fact, got into our apartment. Minoux was lying beside our dresser asleep when a tiny mouse ran in front of her paws. As she woke and looked at this mouse, Robert said to her – Get it Minoux!  She looked up at him and the expression was that of – You have GOT to be kidding!  I don’t know where it has been!  With that she got up and left the room. Yes, we took care of the mouse. Minoux would no more catch a mouse that she would actually be caught playing.

She did play but if she noticed that we were watching she would immediately stop and leave the area. She had a wonderful game she played with crawling babies. She would lie down where the baby could see her and she would wait seemingly asleep. As the baby would eagerly crawl as fast as they could to her she would move her tail very slowly as if to keep their attention.  The very moment that they were close enough to put their chubby little hand on her, she would slowly get up as if she didn’t know they were there and walk away just far enough for the little one to try again and she would lie down again and wait for it to happen all over. This she would do until the little one got tired of trying to catch her.

Minoux also loved tinsel and every Christmas had a few strands. We tried not to put any near her but she loved it and got to it no matter what. She had a thing for the smell of bleach and when a product that we used to clean had bleach in it Minoux would roll in whatever had been cleaned. She never bothered with catnip but bleach had the same effect on her as catnip would for other cats. When she was the age of 14 we gave up trying to stop her from getting any tinsel or roll in the bleach as we figured if it hadn’t ended her life yet, it probably wouldn’t. She would only eat the cheapest of cat foods and only the tuna. Tuna and cheese, tuna and egg, tuna and tuna. It got to the point that only one pet food store in the city of Ottawa carried it and fortunately carried it for her long life. They actually stopped carrying it a couple of months after Minoux had died.

Minoux2

Poppadezutt – (Verhaeghe)

1942 Mom & PapaBack in about 1938 my mother lived on a farm and had a dog that she had gotten from a neighbour. She had named him Sport and took care of him.

Now Papa wasn’t a huge fan of Sport and always called him Poppadezutt which meant Crazy Dog. When Papa did the morning chores Sport would follow him everywhere and one of the things that Papa would do was open the huge barrel that sat in the corner, dip his finger in and give the dog a taste of the molasses that was kept there. This barrel of molasses was used to kill the tobacco worms that would destroy a crop if not taken care of. It was mixed with poison and applied to the plants but what was in the barrel was just pure molasses, no one would mix it until it was needed.

Now today was the family’s day to go to town. Mamie, Papa and Mom would take their car and drive to Delhi to get the week supplies. This would be a day trip which included visiting, errands and even more visiting. It was something that Mom really looked forward to as in those days, one didn’t go shopping or anywhere for that matter so it was pretty exciting to go to town. This day was no different and it was dusk when they pulled back into the driveway on the farm.

Mom was worried as she didn’t see her dog running out when they arrived home. He usually came from wherever he was to greet the family as if they had been gone forever. As Mamie began to take in the supplies Mom and Papa went looking for Poppadezutt. Mom calling Sport looking under the porch and anywhere she could think of. Papa went into the barn, looking everywhere he could think of – no dog – just as he was turning he saw the lid of the barrel open just a bit and in the dim light of the barn when he pulled back the lid of the molasses barrel he could just make out the black nose just poking out of the molasses.

In those days, one dressed up to go to town and Edmond Verhaeghe was no different. He was in his good suit. He tore off his jackets, tie and shirt, reached deep into the barrel, into the molasses and grabbed hold of Sport and began drawing him out of the molasses. Out of the barrel came a molasses covered dog. Barely moving at all. Papa ran with the dog to the horse trough. He put him in and got the first part of the molasses off the dog. Wiping him down with straw and then washing him with soap and a hose until the dog was free of the molasses, he then wrapped the shivering dog in a blanket and stuffed him in a straw bed in order to keep him warm. As Mom sat beside her dog, talking to him she knew her dad had made it better. Sport was going to make it.

In fact, the next morning Sport was back to his old self and following Papa as he went about his chores with one change. When Papa dipped his finger in the barrel Sport took off. He did not want anymore molasses probably for the rest of his life.

Delhi 1938

 

Story Note – All stories will have a title for easy finding and which family it is about in brackets. Stories take place from the beginning of the 1900s to present and therefore there will be things that may not go over well in a present day mind. Spankings were only a couple of swats on the bottom. Pets were not the fluffy pampered animals of today but working animals who earned their keep as well as being loved by the children. Smoking and drinking was a normal part of life even if Moms were pregnant or kids were present in the car or room, especially smoking.

Chaudiere Park – (Potvin)

lebreton3The park took most of the block consisting of Ottawa street, Booth street, Wellington street and, Broad street. The aqueduct separated the park, so that at the north end of the park was the smaller kids end, while the south end of the park was for the older kids and teens.

I spent most of my free time at the park. It was where the gang hung out. I learned to skate, play hockey, baseball, horse shoes in that park.

The small kid area had a sand box, 12 kiddy swings, a kids pool, merry go around and monkey bars. As a kid, I used all of the facilities. In the winter however everyone went to the other side of the aqueduct to skate and play hockey.

The pool was to shallow to be able to swim in it, but on a hot summer’s day it was a great place to splash and cool off. The water was always refreshing, since the pool would overflow with all the kids in it, that the park supervisor would have to add more city water on a regular basis. The pool was emptied at night, before the supervisors left for the day.

The sand box was used quite a bit by the smaller children, but on occasion you would get a creative teenager or parent, who would construct a large castle. Of course this meant getting water from the pool, which resulted in several volunteers to get pail after pails of water.

There were 12 kiddy swings made of wood and hung up on chains. The type of chair that had three sides with an opening at the front and a bar that raise up and down to set the child in. As I got too big to sit in the seat part, I would sit atop of the seat itself and swing for hours. By the time I was 12, they had set up larger swing on the south side of the park.

The merry go round consisted of 5 long boards you sat on, facing inwards and someone would volunteer to push it around. Now if you pushed it from the outside, it would turn nice and slow. However if someone got inside and began to push, it would go a lot faster. It was a ride that could be a lot of fun and scary at the same time, as you held on for dear life, when you got someone to push it real fast. I don’t recall anyone falling from the merry go round, but I must admit it came close at times. Then again, whoever was push it, took in consideration who was sitting on it.

The monkey bars was my favourite activity in the spring. Going hand over hand from one end to the other, seemed always to be a lot of fun. As I grew older, hanging upside down from it was one of the tricks everyone did. Every spring a new set of blisters would appear on my hands from moving on the monkey bars.

It was also a great place to bring my younger brothers, when I was old enough to baby sit. Strangely, I don’t recall seeing many parents there.

By the time I was 12 years old, I began to spend more time on the south side of the park, with the older kids. It consisted of 6 swings, with boards as a seat. I’m sure there is a good reason for the webbing they use now, which becomes very uncomfortable as you swing. Then again, I can’t recall anyone getting hit in the head with the wooden seats.

The ground was covered in crushed stone, so playing football, other than tag football wasn’t done. Almost daily, during the summer school break you could see a baseball game going on. This by all means was not organized, just a bunch of kids and teens playing a game.

As for horse shoes, I got many a blister playing that game also.

There were a few tables, where you could play checkers.

As the weather got cooler in the fall, each day I would look to see if the boards for the rink were being put up. Tall polls were erected from which hung the lights and speakers and, then the boards were set up. Soon it would be cold enough for the ice to be formed. In the winter months there was one man, who flooded the rink and supervised the park. There was the shack where you could change from your boots to your skates, which had a coal stove to keep it warm. The speakers blared out music during the periods of time where only skating was aloud. If the nets were on the rink, you could play hockey, if not it was just skating time.

Clearing the snow from the ice, was done by the kids. There was no problem with finding volunteers to remove the snow, to get a game of hockey started. Again this was not organized, just a bunch of kids divided into two teams to play a game. I must admit it could be very confusing for someone watching as there were no team sweaters. And yes, not only did I wear magazines wrapped around my shins as shin pads, but so did a lot of my friends. I don’t recall ever wearing shoulder pad. The only players who wore pads supplied by the park, were the goalies. One size does not fit all, when it comes to goalie pads, I know from experience. Of course there was little body check and the puck remained mostly on the ice surface, but then you played the puck, not the man.

Although I really enjoyed playing hockey, my favourite time on the ice, was when the music played for skating. I still enjoy just taking my time and skating.

The lights would flicker, meaning it was time to leave the rink, get your boots as the park closed at nine PM. There were many of Friday nights, we would stay around, waiting for the supervisor to leave and get back onto the ice for another hour of skating in the dark.

There is nothing left of the park, as the transit way runs through the south end of the park and a bicycle path runs through the north side, but each time I pass by the aqueduct, I can’t help but remember the park, the friends I played with and the fun we all had.

Can you imagine a bunch of teens standing by a small transistor radio and singing away the new song. Or one of them telling a joke, causing all the others to laugh out loud. Listening to the dreams of each of your friends, as to what they want to be when they grow up. Is that what kids do at the malls.

I do have to tell you a funny story that took place in the park. You must understand, that I’m part of a very large family, with many cousins. Some I knew well and some I got to meet first when I was 12. Richard is one cousin, I first met, when his parents move in the neighbourhood. Jean-Marc is a cousin I knew most of my life. One day, while at the park, Richard asked to borrow my bike. Of course I let him have it. Just as Richard was getting on the bike, Jean-Marc came into the park at the far end. Thinking Richard was stealing my bike, Jean-Marc pulled him off the bike and pushed Richard to the ground. I was able to pulled them apart from each other, before either got to badly injured. We all had to laugh when I introduced them as cousins.

08-Serge and Denis 1958

Story Note – All stories will have a title for easy finding and which family it is about in brackets. Stories take place from the beginning of the 1900s to present and therefore there will be things that may not go over well in a present day mind. Spankings were only a couple of swats on the bottom. Pets were not the fluffy pampered animals of today but working animals who earned their keep as well as being loved by the children. Smoking and drinking was a normal part of life even if Moms were pregnant or kids were present in the car or room, especially smoking.