Friday 16 March 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Baptized Bette Eileen Stroud, my Mom was raised in Dunbarton near old Highway 2, in a family which would eventually total seven children.  The Stroud house, built by my Mom's grandfather, was  occupied by two generations:  Grandma and Grandpa Stroud and Aunt Kathleen, along with my Mom's family.  Mom has shared many warm memories about her childhood years. 

For instance, Mom remembers rabbit and duck hunting with her father who would bring beagles along to help with the hunt.  Sometimes one of the beagles would get lost and he would spread his coat in a clearing and return the next day, to find the missing dog waiting there. 

Mom also remembers sharing a bed with her two sisters, Marlene and Sandra.  They would sometimes tickle each others backs and Mom was lucky because no matter which directions she faced, someone always tickled her back since she laid in the middle.  The three Stroud girls also shared a tricycle:  Marlene got to sit on the seat while Mom and Sandra stood on the back step.  Mom said that "Marlene usually did the talking as well as the pedalling."

Mom enjoyed visiting her Grandma and Grandpa Stroud.  The latter was both a shoemaker and a candy maker and he would ask Mom and her sisters to help him stir the fudge and pull the taffy.  The best part of all of course was eating it!  Unfortunately, he passed away when Mom was not quite five years old. 

Mom always enjoyed school, although she didn't start until she was 6 1/2 years old since Dunbarton School did not have Kindergarten.  She reminisces about the spelling bees the teachers held which she often won.  One difficult word she mastered was "cinnamon".  She felt sorry for the kids who couldn't spell.  She remembers her Grade 2/3 teacher kept a strap in her desk which she administered readily to any student who stepped out of line.

One not so warm memory that Mom shared was from the 1940's when she used to shovel a tunnel through the snow to get to their outhouse.  She and her siblings used the Eaton's Catalogue not only as reading material but also as toilet paper during their time in the outhouse.  Don't ask me what happened when more than one person in the house had to use the toilet at the same time (given that their home housed ten people)!

Given the Stroud house had no indoor plumbing, Mom and her sisters had to go next door to a pump, hang a pail from it and pump out fresh water each day for bathing and for washing dishes.  According to Mom "The pail was heavy and we weren't very big so we spilled a good deal before we got home."

Mom remembers taking the Greyhound bus to Toronto for the Santa Claus Parade in the late Fall.  After the parade, she and her siblings would line up in Eaton's Toyland to sit on Santa's knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. 

At 9 years old, Mom and her family moved to Oshawa, a small city in 1949.  They occupied a two storey house with several bedrooms on Simcoe Street North, just beyond the city limits.  In those days, milk was still delivered by a milkman in a horse-drawn wagon.  Milk came in slender glass bottles with cream at the top which cost 16 cents apiece; their contents were consumed and then returned the next week to the milkman.  Mom said that the horse knew the milkman's route so well, that even if the latter was sick, the former could still follow the route on its own.

At 12 years old, Mom was hired by her Dad to work at his store, Stroud's Fruit Market, in Oshawa.  After school, she and her sisters would take a bus downtown and work at the store.  They quickly learned how to operate a cash register (the old-fashioned kind) and how to bag groceries efficiently and how to fill the shelves in an organized fashion.

These are just a few of the memories that Mom shared with her grandchildren 12 years ago.  It was 72 years ago today that Bette Eileen Stroud came into the world.  Happy Birthday, Mom!  I love you!

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