Sunday, 22 May 2016

New Year's Day Wishing - Rhein, Saskatchewan, c.1946: Dad

Uncle Larry?
I wish you health,
I wish you wealth,
I wish you bliss in store.
I wish you heaven after death,
What can I wish you more?

New Year's day we had our cap guns. The rich kids had repeating cap pistols; the poor kids had to put single shot in and you had to reload - bang! Reload - bang! We wanted to go around to the houses with our cap guns and shoot.

Two or three of us would go together. Relatives... I don't remember going to a stranger's house. Direct neighbours and relatives, but at the same time I must have had twenty cousins, uncles and aunts and what-have-you. So it was a pretty good time. We'd fire our cap gun, knock out of respect, say the wish; they'd give money. 

The old-timers we'd give a German wish. I only knew one. It was a little bit on the risque side, something like: I wish you hurry up and give me. I can't stand here too long 'cause I'm crapping in my pant legs. But you didn't say that to serious people.

All we were really wishing is that they would give us some money - and everybody did, depending on their financial condition: a nickel, a quarter. It wasn't a big Get Rich deal; we would spend it on the necessities of life: Cherry Blossom candy bars. Wagon Wheels... they were that big, not like they are today.

Later on: pinball machines, which we played by putting the pinball machine on our toes so the balls wouldn't come down so fast. It upset the whole machine so you could keep your ball in play long enough to get free games. Put your first nickel in and play all afternoon. The result was sore toes and mothers who kept asking how it was that your shoes were all crushed, scuffed and misshapen, and why you were always limping. Those machines were heavy. 

The person in the store didn't care: it was a restaurant; they had it there to attract kids. Which it did.


1 comment:

  1. The photo almost brought a tear to my eye. I remember the sandbox, the toy truck, but not the grader. It was in this sandbox, while playing with a beer bottle, that I took a swig and swallowed a mouthful of sand. After recovering from that, I also received supreme hell from my mother who, I’m sure, never witnessed a stupider act in her life. She would have been in her late twenties or early thirties at the time.

    Now have a look at that photo and note the building in the background:
    The boards were cut by my dad from trees that he chopped by hand on his own farm. There were no chain saws.
    The attachment shows my drawing of the sawmill setup in our back yard. It was set up right where my sandbox ended up.
    Can you imagine how work intensive that was?
    The building was quite big. Half of it was used to store the car and the tractor. The other half was his workshop where he built cupboards, boats and other things. He was kind of a handyman/carpenter.

    The photo was probably taken in 1946-7. It looks like I was 6 or 7 at the time. I know we were living in our “old” three room shack until sometime after my sixth birthday. One day I’ll tell you about my sixth birthday and why it was so memorable.

    Grandpa made a boat for my uncle Ron (as in Ron and Dollie). Then the neighbour, I think. I also remember him building one for my baseball team to be raffled off at the Rhein sports day - now that was a big deal, and a story in itself. He also made one or two others, I think.

    They were made of plywood, and I remember he soaked the sheets of plywood in a large bathtub in order to be able to shape it into the proper curve. I also remember him complaining about having to use special screws (brass I think) to secure the plywood to the frame.

    The boats were absolutely beautiful, all varnished and gleaming. They were for fishing, and I imagine they might still be in use.

    Another thought just came to me: the person who won the boat in the raffle complained that there were no oars. That was so unfair. Today that same person would complain that there was no motor included. The locals got their flabbers gasted over this; it was the gossip subject for a month or two that year.

    God the silly things that we remember!!

    The more I look at that picture the more I think it is Larry, not me. The building in the background had to have been built well after I was 10 years of age. I should have picked that up sooner. The swallowing of the sand, though, happened when I was under 6. Maybe 4 or 5. Also, I think Larry inherited that dump truck from me.