Pearl Sklapsky-Holben Memoir – written April 22.1989

Brother George would warn us to be careful of the Post Hole Digger when we went outside to play or the Sledge Hammer, and as if they weren’t scary enough, there was the dreaded Screw Driver who may be lurking around the corner. And one never knew, the Side Hill Gouger just may be hiding behind the wood pile. Side Hill Gougers are make believe and the rest were tools. The wood pile was made of rail road ties, standing upright on ends to shed the rain until the boys could split them up for fire wood.

My niece, Aileen was often left by sister Lottie to play with me when we were both little. We played with the cats or our dolls. I remember one day when she came over, my doll was undressed and her comment was, “My God it’s got no clothes on!” We usually played really well together, but there were the occasional spats, of course. One time we had been quarrelling and Lottie had come to pick up Aileen. Aileen told me very primly, “I’m going home” and my response was, “Glad to be rid of you!” But in spite of our few quarrels, Aileen and I were good friends. Lottie and Hilda’s children were more like cousins to me than nieces and nephews, because we were so close in age.

When we went any place it was always with horses, as they were the good old horse and buggy days, no parking problems, or running out of gas. It was slow but much more sure. I remember a trip into Brock and it must have been near Easter time, as I can remember these fluffy little yellow chicks that stood on a piece of cardboard, and I did so want to touch them, but the adults wouldn’t let me.

I recall another time, finding a red thing and I didn’t know what it was, so I asked. They told me it was a “Red Devil” glass cutter. I thought it was a very funny looking devil. If you have never seen a Red Devil glass cutter, make the effort to get a hold of one and see what it looks like. You’ll see why a child would think it was a funny looking Devil indeed.

The houses way back then weren’t very weather proof when it came to winter time. I can recall winters so bitterly cold with so very much snow and days of steady blizzards. One winter sticks in my mind as we all got very bad colds despite the fact we were well provided for; as I can not recall a time that my folks didn’t have a good garden. We had all kinds of vegetables and a dirt cellar that kept the carrots and turnips crisp and fresh until way late in the spring. We always had our own beef and pork.

This particular winter when we had such heavy colds and there was a lot of snow, I remember a neighbour who lived near the McCarthy school, a Mr. Campbell by name, came to our house. Mr. Campbell had a big family too. He would walk to Brock which was six or eight miles from our place, to get supplies for his family. The winter trail and the summer one also went right past our house and the neighbours would often stop in and warm up or get a drink before continuing on to Brock or before proceeding on home. I recall this one night, Mr. Campbell stopped in and Mother had supper almost ready to put on the table. It was no extra chore to put on another plate and a setting of silver. The supper was boiled vegetables in a pork broth and a big shoulder of pork. It was so good. The house seemed to be extra warm as the cook stove was big and heavy and really put out heat when it was used for getting meals, and it kept its heat for so long as there was really good material in it. I remember getting so warm I went to the door and put my face near the key hole to get some cold air. Mr. Campbell saw me and said, “Don’t do that sweetheart. You’ll make your cold worse.” My brothers teased me about being Mr. Campbell’s sweetheart and that didn’t go down with me. Of course the more I got angry, the more they would tease me. Mr. Campbell would stop in quite often and he’d recite rhymes such as “Sally go up and Sally go down. Sally go twisting her toes around.” He was a nice man, but I was not going to be his sweetheart.

Many of the family lived long lives together, in the days when marriage was for life. A commitment made was honored by those who made it, as was the one to whom the commitment was made. Frank and Ettie, my parents, celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1945 at Vancouver. She passed away the following year, 1946 in February. Dad passed away in 1958 in his eighty-fifth year, on March 28th. George and Lottie celebrated their fiftieth Anniversary in December of 1967, and she passed away in 1970. Hilda and Allen celebrated their fiftieth Anniversary in January 1968 and Allen passed away on October 28. 1968 and Hilda passed away in 1976. Jim and I celebrated our twenty-fifth Anniversary in November 1967, and Jim passed away on December 3, 1975.

So ends Pearl’s memoirs. She had intended to write more, she wanted to finish off the book, but ill health and the pressures of daily living prevented it. In late August 1993, her daughters Arletta and Linda took her to Michigan to meet her cousin Liz, see Auntie Bea again and find out what we could about the Sklapsky family in Michigan. She was so thrilled with what we were able to find at that time, and she was awed to find the graves of her grandparents Mary and Joseph. I am taking the liberty of including in this book, the tale Mom unfolded for the history of Eston book, where only an edited portion of her tale was included. It is my wish that the reader enjoy this glimpse of her life on the farm.

Read “History of Eston submission.

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