The WordPress writing challenge this week is entitled Snapshots. Here’s the link if you want to read more about this:
Here’s my contribution to the collage: various flashes of memory from my childhood back on the farm where I was raised by my Aunt and Uncle. Some of this was posted yesterday on our Family tree blog, Vance-Turner Connect.com (see link below.)
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 my birth mother and father, Allen and Louise Vance, lived with my brother Jim, age four; likely my sister 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 have a picture of us as small tikes running into the old red hip-roof barn, going into the empty chicken coop and climbing up the ladder into the hay loft. The big side doors were open; Jim and I would stand there for a moment and then jump down to the ground — a distance of at least fourteen feet. Then we’d run back into the barn and do it all over again.
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 my Aunt & Uncle Forsyth 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 Aunt Myrt & Uncle Fred 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 actually quite small!
My aunt 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 Uncle Fred got a few feathers from my aunt’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 color 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.
One memory comes to mind from when I was about three and a half. My mother had given birth to a boy, but she had that “RH negative factor” and the baby needed a blood transfusion at birth. Melfort was a small town a couple of hours from a major city, and the hospital didn’t have the needed blood, so the baby died.
I remember a group of people gathered around in the living room of the old farm house; I can visualize the little coffin Uncle Tom had made. They told me there was a baby in that coffin; they’d named him Martin. My aunt says I cried and cried because I didn’t want them to take the baby away and bury it.
At one point someone lifted me up and I looked into the coffin and inside it lay a tiny doll. (To my child’s mind, anyway.) I can still remember my feeling of disappointment as I looked down on that little thing, so still and white. I was so irked that they would tell me there was a baby and here it was only a doll! (Maybe I’d already been jaded by that Dicky bird incident?)
When I was four years old my aunt went to work at the hospital in the nearby town of Melfort for the winter. I don’t remember if Verne went with her, nor where my birth parents stayed, but I was left alone on the farm with my Uncle. 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 my uncle 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 backyard 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 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. Uncle Fred’s temper was a force to tremble at!