Pearl Sklapsky-Holben Memoir – written April 22.1989

In January 1917, Hilda was married in her turn, to Allen Hamilton of Eston. They lived in Saskatoon for the first part of the year, maybe to escape company in their honeymoon bed? No! No one but Hilda would do such a thing. Later in the year they returned to the Eston district to farm.

On August 24, 1917 I was born in the Eston Hospital, a small building in the corner of the yard that would become the Hospital site in Eston. Later, the little building became a nurses’ residence. Many years after Dr. Holmes made it into an office. Mother had gone to stay with Hilda to await my birth since travel in those days, with a baby on the way, was a consideration. Thelma, at school, informed her friend Florence Homer that she had a baby sister named Pearl and Florence, not to be outdone, informed Thelma that she had a baby sister named Ruby! So the prairie got two little jewels in one year.

Bainard went with Mother to stay with Hilda until my arrival. Allen told of how he had been resting in the shade of the house, trying to cool off in the breeze. His hat kept blowing off. Bainard, nearly two at the time, would run and get it for him and Allen would thank him so much each time. Once Allen joked, “Well I guess we’ll have to nail that hat to my head so it won’t blow off again.” Bainard got a hammer and a nail and obliged Allen with a real smack to the head. I remember how Allen would scratch his head whenever he told the story.

When Mother brought me home from the hospital, she told how excited Bainard was. He had never before been separated from his mother. When he saw the bundle she was carrying he wanted to see what it was, so Mom told him to climb up on the bed and she would give him his baby. He put out his fat little arm, she laid me on it and his big brown eyes just sparkled. I was his baby! We were friends, playmates and pals ever since. I always put a great store in what he did and what he told me, and we had many good talks and times together.

Linda has asked me to write down what I remember from the beginning. To begin with a beginning one must go back to a beginning and to go back to a beginning means as far as your memory of beginning began. Mine goes back to remembering a time which I am told I shouldn’t remember as I would be much too young. I will include the story here for those who want to know what it was like back in those days, and to challenge all who read this to think back to their earliest memories possible.

On July 4th, 1918 the American or Yankee settlers, as they were called in those days, in and around Brock, decided to hold a picnic at the Sklapsky farm. I wasn’t quite a year old at the time as I was born August 24. 1917, but I do remember, just faintly being carried to a booth in the yard, with a great many people around, an unusual number of people, even for our family homestead. All the settlers that had come up from the States met at the farm yard and built a booth with the new lumber Dad had there. I remember the booth. I guess it was because it was a strange building in our yard: something new that I hadn’t seen before and it stuck in my mind. I learned many years later, that in the booth the ladies had coffee and lunch to hand out, while the men played ball and pitched horseshoes, ran races and anything else they thought of to make merry.

Years after, when I was in my fifties, and Bainard, Fritz and I were the only ones left of our large family, I asked Fritz about the booth that had been built in the corner of the yard. I asked if there had been a picnic or something because it seemed there were a lot of people around. My brother Fred informed me that I couldn’t remember that. Bainard said every Sunday was a picnic at home as all the family gathered there as well as many neighbours. Fritz said the Yankees were celebrating the fourth of July at our farm. I said I remembered someone carried me out in the yard and the sun was shining on this new building and I can remember seeing it and all those people around. As Fritz says, it must have made a real impression on me, because I would have been just a baby then. He told me that Mr. Christopherson was the catcher in the ball game, and he caught the ball with his bare hands. When evening came, they took down the booth and built a platform of it and held a dance. Mr. Frank Davis, owner of the 3 Bar Ranch called squares for a square dance. They certainly knew how to have a good time whenever they could take time from their busy lives to do so.

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