Tag Archives: family

A Tipped Caboose, A Black Eye and A Wedding

The caboose tipped over!  I was visiting my 94 year old Aunt Viola in Saskatoon on the weekend and she told me a story about a time her family was in an accident on the way to a wedding.  

mom and her sisters

My aunt Viola and my mother Dorothy. Mom is on the right.  

My aunt and my mother were asked to sing a duet at the wedding of their hired girl Tina.  Tina was a recent immigrant from the Soviet Union.  My grandparents had a farm in Drake Saskatchewan and my grandfather often offered to go to the train station in nearby Humboldt or Lanigan to pick up new immigrants from Mennonite communities in Russia when they first arrived in Canada. If they didn’t have relatives or friends to stay with he would bring them home till they could find work and a place to live.  This happened with Tina, but she stayed on for quite some time and my grandparents gave her a job helping with the housework and yardwork.  Besides her own four children my grandmother was also caring for her aging mother and blind brother-in-law, so Tina’s help was appreciated. 

Eventually Tina met a man whose last name was Buhler and they decided to marry.  My mother and my aunt were both very musical and Tina asked them to sing at her wedding.  My Aunt Vi said this was a little unusual because normally their parents sang duets together while my mother accompained them on the piano, but Tina wanted Viola and my mother Dorothy to sing so they agreed. My grandmother would accompany them on the organ. 

mom' s family sleigh

The Schmidt family poses beside their caboose. My Aunt Viola is to the left of her youngest sister Leila and my mother Dorothy is to Leila’s right. Behind them is my Uncle Earl and my grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt.

The Schmidt family set off for the wedding in their horse drawn caboose, although my aunt said they usually referred to it as ‘the bus.’  The weather had warmed a bit and the roads were slushy and muddy and a real mess so my grandfather decided to go cross country across the land of their neighbor Hugo Bartel because his fields were still quite snow covered.  As they sailed across the field the thin runner of the caboose cut into snowbank and the caboose tilted and then tipped right over.  Everyone was thrown from their seats. No one was hurt too badly but my mother bumped her eye and it quickly became bruised and swollen. 

north star mennonite church

The North Star Mennonite Church where the wedding took place.

The family righted the caboose and continued on to the North Star Church. My mother and my aunt still sang at the wedding, although my mother was sporting a black eye during the performance.  Aunt Vi remembers that Tina had requested the song Keep On the Sunny Side  a popular hymn written by Ada Blenkhorn in 1899 so that’s what they sang.  

Later when the family looked back on the accident they remembered it with humour and often laughed about how they tipped over so suddenly and how my mother sang such a positive and upbeat song with a black eye. 

Other posts………

A Passport of Her Own

Wash Day Tragedy

Family Blueprints


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Late Again

This is the third year in a row I’ve been a day late in recognizing my siblings for International Siblings Day.   I love my siblings and they greatly enrich my life.  I know just how lucky I am to have their support and friendship.  At my mother’s funeral the four of us gave a speech together to share the story of our Mom’s life. At the end we promised to do our best to maintain the strong family ties Mom had worked so hard to nurture.  I think we’re doing pretty well so far.

Mark and me Amanda's wedding




Other posts……..

I Love My Siblings

One Day Late


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I Held You Before Your Mother Did

“I held you before your mother did,” my aunt reminded as she hugged me goodbye.

auntie-mary-and-marylouOn our way home from Arizona we stopped in Kansas to spend time with my Auntie Mary.  I love visiting with Auntie Mary.  She is such a good listener and interesting conversationalist. She is also a veracious reader. When I visit her I always leave with a stack of books she has already read and thinks I would enjoy. This visit was no exception.  My nightstand is now piled high with books from Auntie Mary. Auntie Mary is an artist as well and one of her watercolors which was a wedding gift from her decorates our home. Auntie Mary is also a memory maker and creates the most beautiful books of photos and memorabilia that document the history of her family. She did extensive interviews with my grandparents before they passed away and her notes along with family photos she collected were such a valuable resource when we made our trip to Ukraine to discover our family roots.

I learned some new things about my aunt on this visit.  She follows NBA basketball!  She and my husband Dave had a great discussion about the various teams and players. She is right up to date. She says some of her grandchildren are basketball fans and following the sport makes it fun to text with her grandkids during games. Auntie Mary is also very tech savvy for someone in her eighties.  She texts and e-mails and shops online.

mary holding meHer comment that she held me before my mother did refers to the fact that Auntie Mary was in the delivery room with my mother.  This was in the days before fathers were allowed in the delivery room and my aunt was a nurse at the hospital where Mom was having me. She provided Mom with support during the birth.  While the doctors finished caring for Mom, Auntie Mary held me in her arms in the delivery room. My mother was so appreciative of Mary she named me MaryLou and told me the ‘Mary’ was for my Auntie Mary. 

I was so glad I got to visit Auntie Mary. Like my other aunts she has always been caring and supportive. 

Other posts…….

I’m Her Namesake

Great Aunt Marie’s Books

High Drama at the Christmas Family Gathering


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Pyjamas All Day

If you think being on vacation means lazing around, reading for hours on end and lying in the sun, you obviously have never been on vacation with my husband.  He’s a man of action and a social butterfly who isn’t anywhere very long before he’s made new friends, found old ones to connect with, and become involved in whatever is going on in his current location.

dave-ball-team-organ-stopSince coming to Arizona we have already rendezvoused with numerous Manitoba acquaintances who happen to be holidaying here as well. Dave has joined a pickle ball league at the nearby community court and spends two hours out there with some new buddies almost every morning. As I’ve written before, he’s a member of slow pitch team here in Arizona too.  

A couple of days ago I couldn’t find him anywhere.  His bike was in the garage, our car was on the driveway but he was gone.  Turns out he’d wandered into a neighborhood happy hour on a driveway down the street and made four new friends. One of them has already been over with a set of kid’s golf clubs for our grandson to use when he visits.

Dave and Hans ready for the hike.

For the next ten days or so we don’t have any company coming to stay with us so I’ve been looking forward to just napping  on our patio, coloring in my new coloring book, working on my novel and maybe one day even staying in my pj’s all day. Dave promised me we’d take it easy but so far this week he’s organized a golf date and supper with friends, purchased tickets to a blue grass concert, made a booking for the two of us to do nine holes one afternoon, arranged a breakfast date with Steinbach connections and has been throwing out movie suggestions.

I don’t really mind. While he was on the links on Monday with a golf buddy from Steinbach I got to spend the afternoon hiking and drinking wine with his golf partner’s wife, a fascinating and interesting woman I didn’t really know very well before.

When we golf as a couple we are usually partnered with interesting people. During our last round I met a school social worker, and a university football player. The concert we are going to tonight features Ryan Shupe and the Rubberbands.  They promise to take you on an entertainment roller coaster.  Should be good.  And the breakfast date is with a couple who just like us taught on the Hopi Indian Reservation in the past so we are sure to be able to do some good reminiscing.  

Most of the time I am glad to be married to a social butterfly who is on the go all the time and introduces me to new experiences and new people but I have put him on notice that one day before we leave Arizona I am going to spend the whole day in my pyjamas.  We’ll see if that happens. 

Other posts……

I’m Married To A Social Butterfly

Batters Up At Dawn

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Showing Off Our City

We had family visiting us from Ontario this week and it was fun showing them places in and around Winnipeg. 

On the Provencher Bridge Winnipeg's most photographed landmark

On the Provencher Bridge Winnipeg’s most photographed landmark

One morning I took my brother-in-law Paul and sister-in-law Shirley on a long walk to the St. Boniface Sculpture Garden, across the Provencher Bridge, past the Human Rights Museum and then after a bowl of soup at Winnipeg’s famous Stellas restaurant we went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery where I gave them a quick tour of the current exhibitions. 

Checking the history of our province on the huge Manitoba mural at Upper Fort Garry

Getting a historical overview of Manitoba on the huge mural at Upper Fort Garry

We explored the Upper Fort Garry site and learned about the history of the fort that once stood there. 

img_3192One day we visited Fort Whyte and went on the Bison Safari. 

Dinosaurs Alive exhibit at Assiniboine Park

Dinosaurs Alive exhibit at Assiniboine Park

We all thought the Dinosaur exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo was great, although we wished we’d had our grandchildren along, because we knew how much they would have liked it. Unfortunately the polar bears weren’t swimming in the Journey to Churchill exhibit but we did enjoy the video presentation about Canada’s north through the seasons. 

the-family-at-royal-canoeWe took in the performance by Royal Canoe at the classic Burton Cummings theatre and had a family dinner at Corrientes Restaurant before the show. toasting-bucky-before-the-showThanks to Paul and Shirley for being such a supportive aunt and uncle and flying out for their nephew’s new album release. 

My sister-in-law Shirley had four pars in a row on the back nine

My sister-in-law Shirley had four pars in a row on the back nine at Quarry Oaks

We spent one afternoon golfing eighteen holes at Quarry Oaks which is just beginning to show its beautiful fall colors. 

Posing with Gandhi statue

Posing with Gandhi statue

We enjoyed a breakfast that included squash cakes, bannock and bison at the Feast restaurant on Ellice and saw the movie Florence Foster Jenkins at Grant Park. 

Dave and I hosted a dinner party and invited our daughter-in-law and some long time friends of Paul and Shirley’s.

In front of the Human Rights Museum

In front of the Human Rights Museum

We played four matches of euchre during the visit and the ladies and the men won two matches each.  We play euchre whenever we get together and the men usually end up champions so Shirley and I felt quite good about the tie this time. 

We loved having Paul and Shirley in Winnipeg and hope they will come again. 

Other posts…….

Heidelberg Project

Having a Feast For Breakfast

Terrified Times Three

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Just Like Justin- Seeing The Great Wall With My Family

Seeing Justin Trudeau on the Great Wall of China with his family this week reminded me of my own visit to the Great Wall with my family.  I was privileged to share the experience with my husband and my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew.  My visit was a long time ago. My niece is now an elementary school teacher and my nephew just finishing a university degree, but they weren’t much older than Justin and Sophie’s daughter Ella Grace when we visited the wall. trip to beijing and xian 145

trip to beijing and xian 150

trip to beijing and xian 146

trip to beijing and xian 148

trip to beijing and xian 142

trip to beijing and xian 143

trip to beijing and xian 123

Maybe someday I’ll get to visit the Great Wall with my grandchildren and show them  other important sites in the country that was our home for six years. Wouldn’t that be something!

Other posts……

Tiannamen Square

Now We’ve Been To Sister Cities

Making Chinese Dumplings




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A Honeymoon Adventure

My maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Schmidt were married on New Years Day, 1917 in Drake, Saskatchewan. I have a picture of them standing on a railway car labeled The Los Angeles Special- Kansas Express. They are dressed fashionably. Grandma is wearing a pin-striped coat and a wide-brimmed hat. Grandpa has a soft fedora, leather gloves and a double-breasted jacket. They look dashing and adventuresome.honeymoon couple 1917

My grandmother kept a journal, a daily record of her first year of marriage, which included a four-month honeymoon trip. Traveling by train, steamship, car, horse and buggy or sleigh my grandparents went west to Vancouver and then south to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. They traveled on to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas and finally made their way home via Minneapolis.

My grandmother writes about the many relatives and friends they visited, the “grand ” scenery, the concerts and movies they attended, and the various sightseeing excursions they enjoyed. She describes the hotels they stayed in and the stores where she went shopping.

The trip with its myriad of experiences was taken almost a hundred years ago, yet reading the journal you almost imagine yourself there. I’ve sometimes wondered if might retrace my grandparents’ honeymoon trip. Could I go to the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and watch the seals on the cliffs the way my grandparents did? Could I find a 400 acre orange grove to visit and take a glass bottom boat trip to Catalina Island? I know Busch Gardens is still open. My grandparents toured it on the same day they stopped in at an ostrich farm and an alligator ranch. Could I go mountain climbing in California and take a harbor cruise in Los Angeles. My grandmother loved those experiences.

peter and annie schmidt on their wedding day i

My grandparents also made sure their trip was a time of spiritual growth. They spent a week at Bethel College in Kansas taking a Bible course. They attended all kinds of churches on their travels, Mennonite, Pentecostal, Methodist and Catholic. At a time in history when many Mennonites were skeptical about denominations other than their own I’m impressed my grandparents thought there was something to be learned from visiting and worshipping with such a variety of congregations.

What strikes me about Grandma’s journal is that it makes little mention of the newsworthy events going on around her. World War I was raging and in just a few months conscription would be introduced in Canada. Although my grandparents were conscientious objectors because of their Mennonite faith I know from my mother that some of their relatives served in the military. Canada held an election in 1917 but Grandma doesn’t mention it. Women in Saskatchewan had just received the right to vote. Did Grandma take advantage of her opportunity to cast a ballot for the first time? Perhaps as a honeymooning bride Grandma was so wrapped up in her new marriage relationship that her experiences with Grandpa were more memorable than what was happening in the news.

I think about someday retracing my grandparents’ honeymoon journey. I’m glad Grandma kept a journal of her first year of married life. It offers a fleeting glimpse into my grandparents’ lives and gives me an appreciation for the optimism and sense of adventure they shared.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like………..

Great Aunt Marie’s Books

My Mother’s Childhood Christmases

My Grandpa

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