History Of Eston submission – by Pearl Sklapsky-Holben

I think it was the year Arnold started school that Jack, Jim’s brother, built a steel quonset building. Jim went to help and Sheridan, to get in the way I suppose. I was ironing and it was quite a hot day. I wanted to get the ironing done and pick beans as there were a lot on the plants ready for picking. The wind started getting pretty high so I thought I had better close the upstairs windows. I paused in the hallway and looked out over the crop. It was beautiful, heavy with long full heads rippling in the wind, like a golden sea. When I got downstairs the wind was terrible so I went to shut the porch door which had blown open. I turned to go back into the house and couldn’t get the door open. All I could see were the children’s heads bobbing up and down with mouths wide open. They were screaming in terror but I couldn’t hear a thing for the roar of the wind. I finally got the door open and lo, the two kitchen windows, side by side were broken in and hail stones were piled up in the corner by the stove nearly half as high as the stove and the kitchen was awash with water.

I had to call Jim as the children were hysterical. He said Uncle Jack told them Auntie Bella had her own private hailstorm as her big fern got hailed out. Our neighbour lady had gone out to close a granary and was caught in it. There were no beans for me to pick. You would never even know there had been a garden planted.

The fields looked like summerfallow, but there was not even a sign of straw left. It was all pounded down into the ground. One neighbour said when the hail adjuster came out, he said that there had never been a crop, that there had only been sheep in that field. It did look like sheep tracks all right. The hailstones were so big and so plentiful. But the whole country side?

That winter we had snow! Oh yes, banks of it! Walking over them we could look down on the chicken house and the clothesline post. Arnold decided to dig steps up the snow bank to make walking easier. Jim went out to do the chores carrying the two pails full of pig slop. I always saved potato, carrot, and parsnip peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds along with dishwater and separated milk for the pigs. It wasn’t long before Jim was back at the door, and really irate. He had peelings curling around his ears, cap and pockets, coffee grounds and tea leaves decorated his shoulders and cap and I burst out laughing at the sight of him. He said, “I should have known not to trust that little helper of ours, always setting booby traps!” He had broken through the steps Arny had cut into the snow bank and the slop pails flew up into the air, emptying their contents on Jim and landing beside him.

I said, “If I didn’t know the season was so far advanced, I’d swear you were trying to imitate a Christmas tree.” He looked in the mirror and had a good laugh too, as his anger evaporated, but the pigs got warm water instead of their usual rich concoction.

The children got storm stayed at the school one winter. It was just before Christmas, that we had a terrible bllzzard while Miss Rose Mazzie was the teacher. The roads were impassable so Jim walked to the school with a gunny sack of groceries for them. He looked like an abominable snowman at each end of his journey.

Another storm I remember occurred one day Jim and Peter Duncan had gone to help Alec Duncan butcher a beef. A storm carne up just before sunset, and when I went out to water the stock. I couldn’t see the well house which was less than fifty feet from the house, so I went back indoors. It wasn’t long before Jim walked in. He had walked Peter to Jim Duncan’s trees and then came home. I don’t know how he made it because you could hardly see your hand in front of your face.

The Penkill Post Office where Bella Holben had been postmistress closed, so we had to get our mail from Totnes. The community had gotten together and built a curling rink at Totnes and many a rip-roaring game was played there. The ladies of the district catered the meals with soups, stews, hot dogs, hamburgers, pies etc.. The kids learned how to curl on the Totnes curling rink ice, as the adults usually included a youngster on their rinks. It was good clean sport and was enjoyed by all, whether watching or participating, I remember Janet and Bella Holben along with a couple of other ladies going to bonspiels and they usually came home victorious, too. It would be another red letter day for the community.

We progressed in our farming, managing to get a new self-propelled combine and paying off the V.L.A. for the land. Arletta started school and went two years to Red Rock when they closed the school and bussed the eight children in attendance to Eston School. The eight children included us five, Ken and Gail Ryde and Raymond Myhre. Grandpa Holben had been killed in a single vehicle accident. Grandma Holben moved to Eston and we bought the NW quarter of 22-27-29 W 3rd from her. We got a self-propelled swather and things were starting to get a bit easier, but the hours were just as long. We’d gotten the electric power in and that sure helped and much later we got a couple of electric milk buckets, but we had a few cows who would not cooperate with vacuum milkers and had to be hand milked.


  1. To us, Uncle Jim was a giant. I remember mom giving him an apple. One bite and half of it was gone! Another time, he came over and told us about his tractor tipping over; he crawled under it and lifted it upright. He was scolded but said it was easy. Another time, Linda needed a paint brush for school. Uncle Jim asked her to find a stick. He cut a bit of his hair off, attached it to the stick. I don’t remember what he used for metal to hold the hair on to the stick, but Linda was so happy. He was a man of many talents.

  2. I really enjoyed the descriptive writing, thanks for posting this. It brought back memories of our family visit, I think that was in 1973. Dad (Norm Craddock) driving the VW van with us girls sprawled out over the bed in the back (seat belts weren’t required then either), we saw the places that mom (Maddy Sklapsky Craddock) had told so many stories about their growing up there in Brock. I am sure we drove many flat miles and met mom’s Aunt Pearl and Uncle Jim, who were very hospitable to us. Good times! Thanks again, Jo-Anne Kerr

    1. My pleasure. Thanks should also go to Linda for putting it in her book in the first place and now allowing me to post it here.

      I’d love to get more stories like this if you think of someone who may want to share. I find tales of their trials and tribulations fascinating. Did you read the Charles Reeves memoir? He was Grandpa Frank Sklapsky’s father-in-law (Bernice’s dad).

      Pictures would also be welcome…

      Take care

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