In April of 1989 Pearl Sklapsky-Holben began to write her memoir, a story of her life and the immigration of her family from Michigan to Brock, Saskatchewan. Pearl is the youngest of 10 children who moved with Frank and Ettie Sklapsky to Canada around 1900.
The memoir in it’s entirety, and a great deal of additional family history, can also be read by acquiring Linda’s book “The Sklapsky Saga – The History of a Family”. If you would like a copy of the book please contact Linda, she has copies available. You can reach her at smoochsmom(at)outlook.com, just replace the (at) in the address with @. Please put “Sklapsky Saga” in the subject line. You can also contact me and I can send you additional contact information.
Pearl Norma Sklapsky-Holben writes in her memoirs: Hi! I sit here today, April 22nd, 1989; a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun streaming in the patio doors makes it look as though it is a nice warm spring day, but there’s a wind shaking the tree tops, and if you step outside, the air has a coolness to it that says winter is still in the vicinity. Lake Manitoba is ice covered, and deep wintry snowbanks still blanket the beach, making any northerly breeze carry a chill. Warm jackets are still a necessity, no matter how deceptive the sun looks this morning.
I wonder as I write this, just how interesting it will be for anyone to read. I am seventy-one years old and will be seventy-two on the 24th of August this year. Time has flown by so swiftly, and yet it seems eons since I was a child. I wonder if my having lived will have made an impression on anyone, and I think not. I’ve done nothing to be remembered for. My life is like a pebble. Dropped in the lake it makes a few ripples that fade as they stretch out and eventually, nothing remains. And I guess that is how it’s supposed to be since we are, none of us, indispensable. I wonder if my having lived here on this earth will have made any difference at all. I bore five children which to me are wonderful, but to how many others? Will the Lord bless me through them? Will they make the mark I didn’t?
I was the tenth of my family of surviving children born to Frank and Arletta Sklapsky, and I was the last! Although Mother loved babies to hold and cuddle, having babies for twenty years must have been a real burden to bear. Especially in those days with no disposable diapers, or running water, washing machines or driers.
The layettes of the babies in those days consisted of a ‘belly-band’, a woollen shirt, flannelette diapers, long socks, booties, a borrow coat which was a long wrap that covered the feet and tied under the arms, a long petticoat and a long dress, then a sweater and flannelette blanket, covered by a shawl. Babies were really wrapped in swaddling clothes? They needed to be, as there was no such thing as central heating and even insulation was not heard of yet. But what a laundry that made!
Every Monday was wash day. Water had to be hauled from a slough Saturday and strained into a boiler Sunday night. Early Monday morning a hot fire was started, a big tub was set up and the scrub board and home made bar of soap was taken out, ready for the all-day job of washing.
I remember Mother wringing out the clothes; twisting them in spirals up her right arm. She used to turn the clothes inside out, rub them all, rinse them in two waters, and white clothes would be put into a tub of bluing water.
Some clothes had to be starched, including aprons, men’s good shirts, dresses, table clothes and napkins, dresser scarfs, and petticoats, which were cotton in those days. There was laundry starch which consisted of white lumps that were dissolved in cold water, then mixed with boiling water while stirring until the mixture turned clear. This could then be diluted with clear water so the clothes could be submersed, wrung out, and pegged out on the clothes line to dry.